A report by Tangerine Clarke for Caribbean Life.
Fulton Street between Marcy and Brooklyn Avenues came alive with colorful costume revelers on Sept. 5 thanks to Black Lives Matter Bed-Stuy and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, who hosted a Carnival display on the Black Lives Matter mural that stretches along the thoroughfare.
Labor Day Saturday was different this year. The annual Kiddie’s Carnival Parade was sidelined because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and CDC restrictions — but, this did not stop nationals from coming out to enjoy a celebration of the Caribbean diaspora.
With social distancing protocol in place, this year’s theme — “Back to Love” — came together in an afternoon display that began with health and wellness activities, a musical performance by Anslem Douglas courtesy of 500 Men Making a Difference and a steelpan medley by 11-year old Musical Marli.
The hours-long presentation, hosted by the Bed-Stuy Mural Collective in partnership with the office of District 36 Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr., the Bed-Stuy “Gateway” BID, Bridge Street and more, presented a costume revelry which featured performances by children and stilt dancers — much to the delight of a limited crowd of nationals who wore face masks.
Monique Antoine, a programming coordinator for the event, said that for four weeks leading up to Labor Day Weekend, there were wellness activities like yoga, aerobics, and exercise to help residents heal from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added that the program was extended to the Labor Day Weekend, since Carnival on Eastern Parkway was cancelled.
“We wanted to bring the spirit of the Caribbean to the mural,” said Antoine, adding that Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, Barbados, and other Islands were represented at the showcase, which was accompanied by DJ music.
Trinidad-born fashion designer Sandra Jules of Brooklyn-based SanJules Unique Art Creations Inc. said her small business was severely affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was unable to do fashion shows. This is where I made most of my money,” said the designer, whose creations are now being sold online at SanJules.com.
“It is tough, but I had to do something different to survive. This has made my business stronger, because I can see there are new possibilities. I work hard, and I educated myself, to learn the marketing side of the business, for the future.
“I am alive, and my family is alive,” she said with gratitude, looking forward to the new normal in 2021.