NYC’s West Indian Day Celebrations Kick Off With Back-To-School Drive, Virtual Music Festival

A report from CBS News.

Festivities leading up to Monday’s West Indian American Day Parade kicked off this week.

CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon spoke with organizers about how this year’s celebrations have been adapted due to COVID-19.ADVERTISING

The New York Caribbean Carnival is an annual celebration of Caribbean culture, food, music, art and creativity. But this year, it’ll look a lot different.

“Due to the pandemic, we were not able to do it on the Parkway and host our concert,” said Michelle Gibbs of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association. “So this year we decided to go virtual.”

Many of the weekend’s festivities are heading online.

The West Indian American Day Carnival Association says a virtual concert Friday night will feature artists from around the world, and celebrations will culminate with an online carnival on Monday.

“So basically you login and you sign up and get into costumes,” Gibbs said. “If you get plugged, you get to show off your costume. So everyone is going to be having a great time!”

J’Ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn usually attract more than one million people, but this year the events are canceled because of the coronaviruspandemic.

In an attempt to prevent large gatherings, the city is handing out flyers in sections of Brooklyn where celebrations attract crowds.

Calvin Collins, also known as DJ spice, is one of the artists taking the online stage.

“It’s the biggest event of the year,” he said. “DJs – every hour it’ll be DJs from different countries. We have DJ J from Toronto, from Trinidad, England, me from New York.”

At the association’s Back to School event in Brooklyn Friday, many people who go to the parade every year say while they’re disappointed the event wont be in person, they understand.

“I will still enjoy it, and I cook a whole lot of food! Sunday and Monday if you want food, come to me!” said Josephine Singh of Brooklyn.

Aria Harris says she plans to watch online in her costume while dancing in her backyard.

“It’s very disappointing but it’s for the best,” Harris said . “People have to stay safe.

The association says it understands that people may want to go out to celebrate this weekend ahead of Monday’s carnival by going to outdoor parties and restaurants. But it says if you are going to do so, please respect social distancing rules and always wear a mask.

“We want to encourage the participation in a safe environment,” said Cecille Ford with West Indian American Day Carnival Association.

“Stay home, stay safe and we’ll bring the entertainment to you,” Collins said.

The group says whether online in person, the Caribbean culture will be on full display all weekend in New York.

If you want to take part in the celebrations, CLICK HERE to register.

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