Hundreds of carnival fans, including elected officials, trekked from Brooklyn, among other places, on Saturday for the Third Annual Queens Caribbean Carnival Parade, bringing Caribbean culture and spirit alive to the Far Rockaway Peninsula.
The carnival, formerly known as Far Rockaway Carnival, was organized by State Sen. James Sanders, Jr., in collaboration with State Assembly Member Khaleel M. Anderson and City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.
Among other elected officials on hand were City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr., whose father hails from Jamaica; City Comptroller Brad Lander; State Sen. Roxanne Persaud, the Guyanese-born representative for the 19th Senate District in Brooklyn; Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Richardson, the daughter of St. Martin and Aruban immigrants; and City Council Member Farah N. Louis, the daughter of Haitian and Bahamian immigrants.
The carnival parade, which began at Mott Avenue and B21st. Street, ended at 1627 Seagirt Blvd., featuring a number of superstars of soca and reggae music, such as Denise Belfon; Beniton, aka Jack Frostt; DJ Cheem; Ajala; General Grant; and DJ Koopkat.
“We’re going to have a show that allows you to come and go at anytime during the day,” said Sanders at the pre-parade breakfast at 1047 Beach 21st Street. “We’ll be having a ball up-here.”
Jamaican Marcia O’Brien, president of the Rosedale Civic Association in Queens, said she was attending the carnival for the second time.
“It’s pretty exciting, absolutely”, she said as soca music blared from a float. “This is amazing. It has been growing tremendously.”
Lynette Barfield, a life-long resident of Far Rockaway, said she has attended all the Caribbean Carnival Parades on the peninsula to date.
“I’m proud that this will be a great legacy for Sen. Sanders,” she said. “This is a significant undertaking that will leave a tremendous legacy for this community for years to come.
“It’s a great event for the community to come together,” she added.
Stacey Clarke-Wallace, who resides in Laurelton, Queens, attended the parade for the first time.
“When I came from Jamaica (in 1989), this (Far Rockaway) is where I came,” she disclosed.
“It’s great,” she added about the parade. “It brings the community together.”
Caribbean American Renee Hastick-Motes, vice president of External Affairs for Episcopal Health Services at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, the only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula, said her hospital was one of the sponsors of the carnival.
“When we celebrate Caribbean culture, it’s a great thing,” said the daughter of the late Dr. Roy Hastick, the Grenadian-born founder and former president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI).
“The Caribbean community plays a great part in the City of New York,” added Hastick-Motes. “We will have never missed the opportunity to represent all the Caribbean members in our health system.”
In portraying a 40-lb costume, “The Phoenix”, Mark Walters, originally from Jamaica, said he felt “really good.”
“It’s my second time doing this,” he said. “I feel bigger than ever with my wings.
“Everybody needs to come out every year, so people can see what we’re doing in Far Rockaway,” Walters urged.
Trinidadian Tanya Bynoe, another Far Rockaway resident, carried a small costume, with Trinidadian and Jamaican flags affixed. Her husband is from Jamaica.
“I love it,” she exclaimed. “I haven’t missed a carnival since they started.”
Ingrid Andrews-Campbell, the Vincentian-born district governor of Lions Club 21 K1, which encompasses Brooklyn and Queens, journeyed from her Brooklyn residence to participate, with her fellow Lions, in the parade.
“Great!” she said in describing the carnival, disclosing that the Lions Club has been working with Sen. Sanders “for a while.”
Andrews-Campbell said there are two Lions Clubs in Far Rockaway – Alberne and Far Rockaway Lions Club.
She said the Lions will be conducting a diabetes seminar in Far Rockaway on Nov. 12.
After posing with the Lions, Sanders and Lander, Williams said he was attending the carnival parade for the second time.
“It’s a Caribbean thing,” he said. “I’ll be jumping up and having some fun. It’s a celebration, and I’m enjoying our culture.”