Saturday, September 9, 2017

LABOR DAY WEST INDIAN DAY PARADE - J'OUVERT


On Labor Day many of the residents of Brooklyn celebrate by marching or watching the West Indian American Day Parade. It's called J'Ouvert (day opening) and it's about expressing Caribbean culture. The marchers dress exotically and the spectators wave flags from their home country in the Caribbean. It's colorful and noisy and well-attended. I never saw it. I only heard it.



The Friday before Labor Day weekend, the police put spotlights at troublesome corners which they turned on every night as a sort of hint that NYPD would be present and watching. The day of the parade, there was a strong police presence at street corners and inside the subway stations. Ocean Avenue was barricaded at Parkside Ave. and at Eastern Bl. and many other streets blocked the same way. You could still enter Prospect Park on foot. I didn't go there either. I went to lunch in Queens with a friend.



The parade used to start at 4 a.m., but in a futile attempt to avoid violence, the parade start was pushed to 6 a.m. this year. There is a pre-parade of revelers with drums and whistles and horns that went down Flatbush about 5 a.m. The noise woke me and it was still dark outside, but I didn't look at the clock. It was distant - past the subway ditch and another block, but still it was enjoyable and short-lived - and I went back to sleep afterward. These revelers pass by and then go somewhere else and back to the beginning of the real parade.



The parade starts at Grand Army Plaza and marches down Flatbush to Empire Bl and turns there to continue marching. Then, I guess, there is partying in Crown Heights because I saw some fabulously feathered men and women late in the afternoon and evening walking down Ocean Avenue, presumably going home. That was a beautiful sight - hours and hours of exotic, tropical birds walking down the street.  No crowds and lots of smiling face. 



The extra security didn't prevent violence. At the beginning of the parade two men were shot (not killed) and another man was shot during the parade. Two other people were stabbed. In areas of Brooklyn not too far from the parade route, two men were shot to death. Fin du jour.

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