Kwanzaa bar crawl on hold over COVID concerns

Local News

A festive bar crawl commemorating Kwanzaa and aimed at boosting black-owned businesses has been put on hold; concerns over COVID-19 prompted the postponement of the annual event in Brooklyn and Harlem.

B2 Harlem bartender Christiane was ready to concoct many cocktails in celebration of the Kwanzaa bar Crawl.

But instead, she brewed up whatever she could for a much slower Sunday crowd, because COVID had other plans. 

“It definitely did. I mean as a restaurant, we would love to have more people coming in and feeling safe being indoors and spending money and obviously we wanted to celebrate Kwanzaa,” said Christiane.

The annual Kwanzaa Crawl usually happens the day after Christmas, or the first day of Kwanzaa.

It celebrates Black-owned bars and shops in Harlem and Brooklyn. But a surge in COVID cases meant this year’s festivities are on hold. 

“It’s a bummer I think it was the right call to be safe unfortunately but we definitely would have enjoyed it happen,” said Christiane. 

Jasmin Mckenzie-Bey relied on the crawl to boost her business, Mother Grey’s.

Through WhatsApp, she said she was planning on selling her cultural head and body wraps at the kick off of Brooklyn’s crawl in the Navy Yard.

“At different event that’s when I come alive and start to see old and new faces at events,” said McKenzie-Bey. “It’s definitely impacted the social aspect of it the amount of people I get to reach.”

Instead, the small business owner is struck at home, sick.

Although she hasn’t gotten tested for COVID, she wouldn’t have been able to attend the event even if it was still on. 

Participants hope the holiday event, which celebrates culture and community, will resume when the pandemic slows down. 

“We got through the first round so I know we will again but it needs to stop,” said Christiane.

If you bought a ticket to Sunday’s crawl, you can use it at the later date. 

There’s talk the Kwanzaa crawl will resume this spring or summer and perhaps on June 19- also known as Juneteenth- another significant time to honor African American culture.

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