FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — From the vibrant colors to the elaborate designs, costumes for this year's West Indian Day Parade are on full display at Sesame Carnival's showroom in Brooklyn.
"They are the centerpiece and focus of the actual carnival itself that everyone comes to see," said Aisha Carr, a Sesame Carnival band leader.
Sesame Carnival has been designing intricate costumes for 35 years. This year they have six collections with more than 350 pieces already sold. The cost per costume is anywhere from $150 to $1,500.
"The costumes are important because it's an important part of the culture, the Caribbean heritage," said Carr.
According to costume designers at Sesame, last year they raised more than $50,000 in costume sales alone. The money went right back into their city youth programs.
"We're more than just a Caribbean band, this is one of our largest fundraisers that allows us to do work in the community,"said Carr.
The parade, which is held every year on Labor Day along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, has received criticism, due to violence associated with the festivities leading up to the parade, but organizers maintain they work hard to keep it safe.
"We have throughout the years worked with the NYPD and we will continue doing that, we have also talked with our local elected officials," said Natasha Marcellin, who works at the West Indian American Day Carnival Association. "We have extra security every year so things go as smooth as possible."
To the spectators who are planning on coming, organizers say don't bring the violence.
"If you come to have good time leave violence home, it's not what culture is about."
This year the parade turns 51. Organizers add the celebration is all about food, flags, costumes and the culture of the Caribbean.
"It represents the hard work of the Caribbean people and our heritage, it's the one time we get to share it with the world so they can see what our culture is about," said Marcellin.
The West Indian American Day Carnival Organization has several events leading up the parade on Labor Day, for a list of them, head here.