The spirit of Jah was in the air Monday, as the annual West Indian Day Parade made its way through Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.
But even before arriving, you could feel the Caribbean love from people on the Brooklyn-bound A train in South Richmond Hill, a neighborhood known for its mass Guyanese population.
Watch a float from the parade here:
“I guess it’s all in the motion. When you get there, that soca hits and you get that nice feeling, like you’re back home,” said Michelle at the Lefferts Blvd station, proudly wearing her Trinidad & Tobago flag.
“It’s part of our blood; it’s part of our culture. So everybody is always excited to go to [the parade].”
The parade route itself was filled with the usual fanfare: heaping slices of jerk chicken and ox tail on the grill, scantily clad women twerking and, of course, marijuana scents abound.
All of it exciting to a Rasta Man, a vendor selling incense at the parade section near the Brooklyn Museum. “The energy is right,” he said. “And being a Trinidadian in this is something real, real positive and joyous.”
With this being an election year, many politicians overtook the route with floats, something that didn’t sit well with Rasta Man. “What I’m looking forward [to] today is seeing more art,” he added. “More bands, more masquerade, instead of these set[s] of politicians that they have. I don’t want to see them! Enough is enough at some times.”
“It feels awesome coming out to New York, representing,” said Lahana, a Jamaican-American member of The Horizon, a Trinidad-oriented dance group from Boston. “Even though it’s raining out here, its still fun.”
“We[re] all here to love each other,” her friend D Horizons added. “We all here to advance what we believe in: our heritage, our religion. We’re here to have fun.”
“Embrace it,” Horizons encouraged when asked about what she would want non-West Indians to take from the parade. “If you love it, embrace it.” ‘
“It’s always a good time,” said Marcus, a Trinidadian-American standing outside a stoop near Nostrand Avenue. “I come out here, my family’s here, they work with sugar cane. It’s just all about being with family, being around your culture. It’s kinda like being back on the islands.”
“For most of us, it’s just a day to celebrate who we are and what our families fought for us to be here.”
“This [represents] that we [are] the people of happiness,” Rasta Man said on the topic of what the parade means for West Indian-Americans.
He also extended an invite to people of different backgrounds: “Come and get in the culture and be part of it!”
You can see more pictures from the parade below: