West Indian Day Parade
Every year the West Indian Day parade is held on the first Monday of September. Which is also known as Labor Day in the United States. Months of planning culminate into that one-day. As of 2013 the parade has been going strong for 46 years. The parade is held on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn every year. Millions of people attend the event it’s the largest West Indian Day parade in the United States.
How to get there
Getting there depends on your original destination. You can drive into the nearby neighborhoods of the Barkley Center on Atlantic Avenue to park and walk your way towards the parade. New York City does a great job of adding additional subway trains and buses to and from the area. The best option is to check your local news listings or transportation station for news and updates.
Over the last few years, the West Indian Day Parade has caught a lot of bad publicity for some of the violence that takes place because of a few individuals. However, each year, the New York Police Department (NYPD) and other law enforcement agencies add extra security and check points to keep everyone safe. Officers in street clothing and uniform walk along the parkway and make sure justice is being served. There are a few things you can do on your own to keep yourself safe. Take care of your personal valuables, don’t pull out large amounts of cash, don’t accept drinks and other beverages from people you don’t know, and travel with a buddy.
If you haven’t been to the parade, I suggest you attend. The food is amazing. It’s a great way to get a crash course into Caribbean cuisine. Each country has it’s own special dish and it’s on full display at the parade. The quality of the food determines whether vendors will have repeat costumers. The usual attendees of the parade know where to buy the best food according to their taste, so if you are not sure and its your first time at the parade, I suggest you come hungry and try them all. Let your tastes buds and your stomach decide which island has the best food.
Whether you are Caribbean or other nationality, the sense of pride that you see at the West Indian Day Parade is incredible. You can feel the music through your bones and the core of your body. You can’t help but dance when you hear the music from the islands. When each float passes by, representatives from that island are waving their flags, cheering, dancing, and yelling, with joy and excitement. You can feel the energy and the love in the air. The event is a chance for every nation to represent their home country and to showcase to the world their dance, music, food, costumes, and the love of country.
Being born in Haiti and for the most part growing up in the United States, I love going to these type of events and seeing the floats of each country. I love tasting new food, so I will try the cuisine from each country. The parade is a great opportunity to network and get to know the people and culture of the islands. It’s exciting to see which country has the most flags or people following their floats. It’s a great competition and bragging rights and it makes every other country want to make their floats even better for next year. I’ve been to the parade several times now and I always try to bring someone who hasn’t experienced the parade with me. I love watching the look on their faces when they taste Caribbean food for the first time or see the beautiful people of the Caribbean islands. Everyone that I’ve brought to the West Indian Day Parade always has a good time and I hope to continue that. Don’t be shy and come to the parade the next time around.