Mas with no parade

Trinidadian singer Iwer George. WIADCA

Over two million spectators and thousands of masqueraders would normally be expected to converge on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway this Labor Day Monday.

But clearly, these are not normal times, and the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of the massive annual carnival parade, is again not taking any chances.

The Brooklyn-based group has cancelled the spectacular event for the second successive year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it is still allowing carnival aficionados to enjoy Caribbean culture by hosting a series of carnival events, starting on Thursday and culminating on Monday. All events will be held at the Brooklyn Museum.

“Welcome back! We thank all of our supporters and community members for their continued support,” WIADCA told Caribbean Life late Wednesday night.

“We are mostly live this year with several events behind the Brooklyn Museum from Thursday, Sept. 2 to Monday, Sept. 6,” it added. “Join us, celebrate with us and be part of our rebirth for 2021.”

Michelle Gibbs, WIADA chair, addresses press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 25 outside WIADCA office on Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn. Photo by Nelson A. King

Held under the theme, “Rebirth: Future Now,” WIADCA said the carnival was scheduled to begin on Thursday with the sold-out “Vibes w/Voicey Concert Tour.”

It said several cultural partners have been working with the association “to bring the pageantry of carnival differently to the masses.”

They include: Pride of the Caribbean, Sesame Flyers International, B Paradise Mas’, Poshy Productions/Kaisokah Mas and Kaisokah Moko Jumbies.

“While our beloved New York Carnival Parade is postponed until 2022, we have several events scheduled that feature musical ambassadors from around the Caribbean (Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica) and more,” WIADCA said.

“Join us in the ‘Big Yard’ (Brooklyn Museum) — safe, lots of vibes and easy to get to,” it urged. “Get your tickets today on Eventbrite or www.carnival.nyc! For program updates, follow us on FB (Facebook) and IG (Instagram).”

WIADCA Chair Michelle Gibbs said: ‘We are planning for our future now by leading with our youth as our focal point, and our community members and partners as our foundation.

“As North America’s oldest Caribbean cultural institution — contributor to the city’s economic stability and growth — we produce several year-round community programs for youth, adults and seniors,” she added.

Gibbs said the annual signature events, featuring several cultural and musical ambassadors, are set to take place live during New York’s Caribbean Carnival Week at the Brooklyn Museum.

Regarding COVID protocols for planned events, she said several guidelines are in place “to activate testing, vaccine education, and verification and temperature checks.

“I would like to thank all our elected official from the city and state for your continued support,” Gibbs said. “We could not have done this without you.”

DJ Shug. WIADCA

On Friday, WIADCA features “Welcome Back! New York Carnival 2021,” 7:00 pm – 2:00 am: a Caribbean music fest featuring artists and music from the Diaspora, including Iwer George (2020 Power Soca Monarch Trinidad); Blaxx (Trinidad); Linky First – Mr. “Rock and Come In” (Jamaica); and Adrian Dutchin & Dem Guyanese Boyz.

During this event, WIADCA said DJ Stakz will pay tribute to the late Jacob Desvarieux, guitarist and lead singer of Kassav, and Herman Nau, co-founder and drummer of Tabou Combo.

Music will be supplied by DJ Pink Assassin, DJ Stakz, DJ Norie (Power 105) and One Gyal Army. Admission: Eventbrite https://bit.ly/3yHopzp

Saturday features the Virtual International Youth Fest 2021, starting at 11:00 am.

WIADCA said it is an end of summer Caribbean talent showcase, “where all performances are welcome.”

Among the featured acts are: Trinidad All Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, Kezia Sealy, Besties, KiMarli Jeffrey, Kamarly Simpson (Da Big Show), Kai-Anthony Salazar, A’Janae King-Fraser, Dabria Baptiste, Kurlise Bentham, Mitchila Williams, Shola Roberts Dance Troop, Impression Dance Theater and Batingua Arts. Virtual admission will be via www.wiadcacarnival.org, with “donations appreciated.”

Saturday also highlights “Pan Jamboree,” 7:00 pm – 12:00 am, “complete with live performances from New York’s premiere bands,” such as D’Radoes, Steel Sensation, Hearts of Steel, Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra, Metro Steel Orchestra, Khuentertainment and Harmony Music Makers.

“This event offers patrons an immersive 360-degree viewing experience,” WIADCA assured. “Don’t miss your chance to select a winner with a coveted People’s Choice Award.” Admission: Eventbrite https://bit.ly/3yHUIya

On Monday, Labor Day, WIADCA said “the ultimate New York Carnival day experience, ‘Jus like Mas’, takes place from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

“Get your costumes or Monday wear ready and join us at Brooklyn Museum in Di Big Yard,” it urged, stating that the package includes drinks, music trucks and live performances. Admission: www.carnival.nyc or wiadcacarnival.org.

Instead of grand marshals, WIADCA has named four march marshals for Labor Day.

They are New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to Barbados and St. Lucia; Rabbi Eli Cohen, executive director, Jewish Community Council, and community activist; Dr. Henri Paul, of the Haitian Medical and Disaster Relief Organization; and posthumously Montserratian-born Dr. George A. Irish, former head of the Caribbean Research Center, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies at Medgar Evers College.

WIADCA has put in place strong COVID rules and protocols for the carnival.

It said a negative COVID test within the week prior to the event is required.

“You will be asked to provide a negative COVID test at the gate,” WIADCA said. “Entry will not be permitted to any event without a negative COVID test regardless of your vaccination status.

“If you do not have a negative COVID test, no worries. You can take a rapid test onsite,” it added. “You will need to wait at least 15 minutes for your results.”

WIADCA said masks are required at all official New York Carnival events.

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