Over the years, the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway has been used by New York politicians — prominent and not so prominent — to get the word out to constituents or for photo opportunities ahead of Democratic Primaries, or to better position themselves with the public.
And so, this year’s massive parade was no exception, with many legislators speaking at the pre-parade breakfast, at the Lincoln Terrace Court, at the beginning of the 3 ½-mile-long route, or marching and greeting spectators along the entire route.
Leading political and other figures — Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill deBlasio, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson — were among speakers at the Lincoln Terrace Court.
Other local legislators such as State Assemblyman Nick Perry, Assemblywomen Rodneyse Bichotte and Diana Richardson, Senator Kevin Parker and former New York City Councilwoman Una S.T. Clarke were on hand.
In introducing Mayor deBlasio and First Lady Shirlaine McCray at the breakfast reception, Congresswoman Clarke noted that McCray is the “first woman of Caribbean descent” at City Hall. McCray traces her roots to Barbados and St. Lucia.
“I always say there’s no health without mental health,” McCray said. “Being here today is very good mental health. I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done.”
De Blasio said the city “wouldn’t be as great without Caribbean Americans,” adding: “Our hearts are very heavy. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Dominica.
“I remember what we did for Haiti after the earthquake (on Jan. 12, 2010),” he said. “So let’s us be there for the people of Dominica.”
Almost two dozen people were killed and more than that amount missing from Tropical Storm Erika that devastated the largest of the English-speaking Windward Islands just over a week ago.
De Blasio also lamented the pre-carnival violence in which one man was stabbed to death and an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo shot in the head in a crossfire of bullets by two rival gangs.
He noted that “a young man” — the governor’s legal aide — was “fighting for his life because of senseless violence.”
The mayor, however, said the Carnival Parade is “a time to celebrate, but also for what our community needs and what our children need.
“So let us celebrate with the highest form of celebration — uplifting our city,” he said.
Adams joined de Blasio in condemning the “senseless violence,” calling for a “peaceful parade.”
“We have to rid our community of guns,” he added.
Richardson, who represents the 43rd Assembly District, said she will be “chipping” down the parkway, while representing the “beautiful island of Aruba.”
“Show your national colors!” she said. Richardson’s mother is from Aruba, and her father is from French St. Martin. Richardson “chipped” down the parkway with her son Isaac, 12.
Jamaican-born Perry, who represents the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, weighed in on gun violence.
“It’s always an exciting day when we come together and celebrate our rich culture,” he told Caribbean Life at the beginning of the parade.
“I always appeal to Caribbean Americans and everybody who celebrate with us to leave the guns at home, and we go home in a very celebratory spirit, and make a good example for the next generation,” Perry added.
Perry’s compatriot, Una Clarke, noted the 48th anniversary of the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade, stating that “we’ve made a mark in the U.S.
“If anyone had any doubt, they needed to be on Eastern Parkway,” she told Caribbean Life. “The only thing we need is our economic power.”