EASTERN PARKWAY, Brooklyn — After a three-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the West Indian American Day Carnival and Parade was back and in person on Monday to the delight of an estimated two million paradegoers and participants, as well as for thousands of vendors, and dozens of politicians.
Amid all of the festivities of the city’s largest parade, there was also a concerted effort to ensure that there was no violence at any of the weekend-long events. Mayor Eric Adams pointed out that it seemed to work.
Monday’s official activities began at 6 am. It was a change from years past, when the first event of the day, the J’Ouvert festival, used to begin at 4 a.m., with some people staying up and partying all night in order to be there.
Admission to J’Ouvert this year also required people to enter through one of more than a dozen NYPD checkpoints, where people were screened for alcohol and weapons.
The event was the latest in a string of West Indian American Day events that began Thursday. No significant incidents were reported.
What was reported was great food, music, culture, and fun.
Penny Turner was one of thousands of spectators at the weekend’s main event, the West Indian American Day Parade. It progressed down Eastern Parkway from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Turner, who’d come from Atlanta with her husband, Ty Frazier, said that she was grateful to be at the parade.
“It’s absolutely worth it,” she said. “This is the height of our vacation.”
She and her husband said that a big draw for them was the food. They’d gotten theirs from A Taste of Joy, one of hundreds of booths lining the parade route.
Phil Thompson owns the catering business, which specializes in dishes such as jerk chicken, honey ribs, oxtail, and other Caribbean dishes, in very large portions. On average, prices at vendors were up about 30 percent from the last parade and carnival.
“Inflation,” said Thompson, about the increases, even though his $20 plates of heaping food were less expensive than some of the other vendors’ food.
“Everything in the store is sky high,” he said.
Erica Williams owned another booth.
“We can’t wait to see the mayor and the governor, all the floats passing by,” she said. “It’s been a long, three years.”
Mayor Adams slowly made his way down the route. He’s a Brooklynite who stopped for photos with virtually anyone and everyone who asked. He also pointed out a low incidence of violence in the four days of the carnival. He credited a strategy that involved a variety of agencies other than just the NYPD.
“If we had an unauthorized party somewhere, the police couldn’t go in, but DOB could go in,” he said, referring to the Department of Buildings.
“If we had people double parked,” he continued, “the police couldn’t tow them, but DOT could,” he said, referring to the Dept. of Transportation.
“Everyone was part of Team Safety.” He said that it had worked all weekend, through Monday afternoon.
“We’ve got to pursue it tonight,” he said.