by Ameena Walker
New York City’s annual West Indian American Day Carnival, held on Labor Day, will head to Crown Heights in Brooklyn once again for a day of festivities that celebrates the history, culture, music, food, and people from myriad Caribbean countries. Each year, the parade attracts more than a million people, making it one of the, if not the largest Caribbean celebrations in the country.
Thanks to heightened security measures, getting into the parade route will be similar to entering Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There will be 12 checkpoints along the two-mile route and large backpacks, large bags, alcohol, and weapons are prohibited.
Once you get past that, expect for the route to be packed (say goodbye to your personal space) with revelers, including many people in gloriously colorful costumes. As the various floats go by, enjoy sounds of reggae, soca, calypso, and dancehall and the unique dance styles that go along with them. Vendors will also be selling clothing, food, and other goods that are representative of the various countries involved.
Here’s what else you need to know about the event.
Where and when is the West Indian Day Parade?
The parade happens along Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, with the route stretching from Schenectady Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, then down Flatbush Avenue. It happens on Monday, September 4, beginning at 11 a.m.
What streets will be closed for the West Indian Day Parade?
As with any parade, you can expect major changes to traffic patterns for both public transportation and vehicular traffic. The Department of Transportation hasn’t announced the full list of street closures yet, but based on past years, you can expect for all of Eastern Parkway to be closed along with the following streets:
Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Rutland Road
Rochester Avenue between East New York Avenue and Sterling Place
Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue
Eastern Parkway between Howard Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue
Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
St. Johns Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
Parkside Avenue between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Linden Boulevard
Lincoln Place between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
Additionally, there will be a West Indian Day Junior Carnival—for kids, of course—happening on Saturday, September 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; per the DOT, here are the details on the route, formation area, and more:
St. John’s Place between Kingston Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue
St. John’s Place between Kingston Avenue and Franklin Avenue
Franklin Avenue between St. John’s Place and President Street
President Street between Franklin Avenue and Washington Avenue
President Street between Classon Avenue and Washington Avenue
Into Brooklyn Museum
How to get to the West Indian Day Parade
The MTA’s subways and buses will be operating on a holiday service and many trains stations in Brooklyn may be affected by the parade; the 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains are going to be your best bet, since they stop at various points along Eastern Parkway.
The MTA has released its guide to traveling to the parade, which also has the best buses to take to get to entry points along the route. Be warned, though: those are likely to be slow, given all the people who will be out and about for the event.
Caribbean Anti-Slavery Jouvert Street Festival Celebrated In Brooklyn
J’Ouvert in 2015.
Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
What about events leading up to the parade?
J’Ouvert, the day-break festival that precedes the event, will begin at 6 a.m. instead of its usual pre-dawn start time of 2 a.m. The city is pulling out all the stops this year to make the event as safe as possible, following a string of deadly violence that has broken out at the celebration in recent years. There will be new high-resolution surveillance cameras, increased lighting, and a heavy police presence.
The mayor’s office released a handy little video about the changes:
The festival itself, though, is a joyous celebration of Caribbean culture, with party-goers throwing paint and baby powder on each other, and DJs keeping the mood going.
The West Indian American Day Carnival Association also has more events happening in the days leading up to the parade; check the org’s Facebook page for more details.