Tens of thousands of revelers gathered in Brooklyn yesterday to celebrate Caribbean culture ay at the West Indian American Day Parade, the Associated Press reports. Revelers decked out in sequins, glitter and feathers danced to music from competing sound systems as the crowds cheered. Nayadez Week wore a yellow bikini adorned in black beads and a yellow feather headdress with black sequins, and said she felt like a queen in her outfit. “I love how it fits me,” she said, also wearing a “Miss Panama, US” sash. The thick smell of grilled meats and curry wafted from the food stalls lining the parade route. Vendors hawked West Indian specialties like jerk chicken, curried goat and ox tail. There were red velvet cakes, sorrel tea, pig’s feet and coconuts hacked in half. While there was no official crowd estimate, the parade is one of the largest in the city. More than 600,000 of West Indian origin live in the city, according to census estimates.
This year, with New York City elections around the corner, politicians took advantage of the festivities to push their candidacies. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, running for a third term after laws were changed to allow it, led the parade with former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was grand marshal and donned a blue sash. The retired four-star U.S. Army general endorsed the mayor’s re-election bid at a news conference before the parade. “I hope he’ll win,” said Powell, a native New Yorker of Jamaican descent.
The mayor, wearing a bright pink sweater, cut the ribbon to officially kick off the celebration. The annual parade takes place on Labor Day but is modeled on traditional pre-Lenten Carnival festivities. Brooklyn’s borough president, Marty Markowitz, rode on a float thumping with music. “Brooklyn! The Caribbean capital of the U.S.!” he yelled to the cheering crowd.
Photo: Susana Bates for the Daily News.