TV broadcasts enables home view of Brooklyn bacchanal

A Trini Wedding.Photo by Kevin Williams
A Trini Wedding.
Photo by Kevin Williams

Brooklyn masqueraders invaded the home-front this year when television stations disproved the notion “you have to be there” by broadcasting live presentations of the West Indian American Day Association’s (WIADCA) annual Labor Day parade.

WABC-TV presented a live broadcast from the 11 a.m. start and WPIX-TV ensured viewers they could enjoy the revelry along Eastern Parkway without actually joining the purported 2.7 million who annually turn the borough’s boulevard into a dancehall, fashion runway, food mart and parade route to close out the summer season.

Their broadcast began at 1 p.m. and for three hours narrated a progression from the multi-layered purported 1840’s beginnings in Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to the Eyewitness news team a prolonged live-streamed version was also available at their YouTube portal.

According to the channel 11 promotional snippets, the television station’s three-hour broadcast would deliver “the grand finale of the weeklong celebration of Caribbean culture.”

As promised the latter delivered pre-recorded footage of interviews with Curtis Nelson, executive director of Sesame Flyers and Dawad Philip, a poet/author/cultural archivist and a former editor of the Daily Challenge, a newspaper revered for being New York’s only Black daily newspaper and one of only three in the nation.

Together, the Trinidad & Tobago natives explained the theme “Destination To Infinity” and the genesis of the carnival revelry.

Philip sported a “We The People” T-shirt as he talked about the pageantry of the annual noting that revelers reliably bring “interesting talent” to the streets.

Interspersed between discussions from a four-panel team of experts, morning anchors Hazel Sanchez, Dan Mannarino reporter Kori Chambers were joined by TT-born Michael Manswell who provided insightful historical background about the spectacle, which allegedly began here in the 1920s.

The dance teacher/choreographer and artistic director of Something Positive Inc., interjected his nation’s trailblazing contribution in establishing the proud display of Caribbean culture which attracts as many 2.7 million spectators to the Brooklyn thoroughfare.

Although he rarely missed an opportunity to laud his birth islands the expert explained the West African roots which manifested in order to mimic European mores.

At a juncture where couples dressed as bride and groom — reminiscent of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras — Manswell explained Tobago’s Congo Square similar tradition known as Ole ‘Mas.

“It’s not just rum and revelry,” he said.

It represents “a stitched quilt.”

Journalist Ayana Harry roamed the Parkway to interject live interviews with Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso, DA Eric Gonzalez and in the process deliver savoring suggestions about the variety of foods, music, people and fashion.

She did not shy away from urging on Dominican-born Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso to dance to the soca beat. Together they seemed oblivious of the humid conditions and the BP seemed elated to display his country’s red, white and blue banner.

The former City Councilman boasted the borough’s contribution in making it the “home of Caribbean immigrants.”

The DA echoed similar sentiments saying 100 people from his office were expected at the carnival “because it is home to the largest Caribbean Community in the USA.”

Reportedly, the parade adds $300 million to the New York economy.

And while some politicians chose to talk serious business, Sen. Charles Schumer opted to dance in camera range.

Cameras zeroed in on Public Advocate Jumaaane Williams atop a truck and Grand Marshall and District Attorney Letitia James who stopped by the cameras to say: “This is carnival. It’s a great day to recognize the contribution of the Caribbean community in NYC.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, Cong. Yvette Clarke, and MSNBC PoliticsNation host Al Sharpton were also in view.

CBS-TV shone a spotlight on J’Ouvert and presented a First Alert broadcast of Panorama. While FOX-TV placed street-smart reporter Lisa Evers in the middle of Monday’s mid-day attraction as well as the children’s carnival on Saturday, the channel Five outlet placed emphasis on NYPD’s heavy presence.

Often mentioned in context, each reporter tended to explain the need for surveillance from 13 drones as well as beefed up security at 13 entry points to the carnival.

Allegedly, Andre A.T. Mitchell, NYC’s anti-gun violence czar dispatched a 200-member crisis intervention team to ward off trouble.

Flags from Haiti, Jamaica, TT, Dominica, Barbados, Guyana, Panama and the rainbow banner which identifies members of the LGBTQ breezed freely in the airy 90-degree atmosphere.

The temperature registered the hottest labor day in history but that did not deter masses representing New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) MCU, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, BRAATA Productions, MCU, Medgar Evers College, UFT, UFC, First Panamanian Band of Brooklyn and many many more trucks which exhibited their wares.

“This is a sight that has to be seen,” a WPIX reporter sated “we hope it will be extended and continued.”

For many who watched from air-conditioned conditions, the hope is that extended broadcasts will become an added attraction for viewers to enjoy.