West Indian Day Parade set for return to full celebration following 2 years of COVID-19 changes

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Saturday, September 3, 2022
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The West Indian Day Parade will be back in full force Monday after two years of COVID restrictions. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The West Indian Day Parade will be back in full force Monday after the event was displaced the last two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 100,000 participants and 1.5 million in-person spectators are expected.

Organizers know people will want to be out in full force after two years of restrictions, but police will also be out in full force to ensure everyone is safe.

Josh Einiger rode along with NYPD officers to discuss security measures.

Despite no organized J'Ouvert, the early morning celebration which typically kicks off the festivities, in 2021 and a mostly virtual West Indian Day Parade with a scaled down in person component, some revelers could not contain their Caribbean pride to their homes and turned out anyway.

But this year festivities are expected to flood Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn's Crown Heights as usual.

And that means the NYPD will also be out in full force to engage the community in the revelry, but also to be ready to stem any incidents of violence that stubbornly seem to crop up in the yearly event.

The NYPD said it is committed to ensuring this year's celebrations are safe and enjoyable for everyone involved.

Thirteen security checkpoints, with handheld metal detectors and bag checks, will greet anyone entering J'Ouvert, NYPD officials said while outlining security plans on Friday morning.

The entire parade route will be a barricaded "frozen zone," and the only points of entry -- at the beginning, middle and end -- will be monitored by supervisors on site and through video surveillance.

The security precautions are similar to large events like Times Square on New Year's Eve, and virtually identical to the last full size J'Ouvert and West Indian Day Parade in 2019.

"And they proved to be well-received by both the community and the NYPD and it was quite successful," NYPD Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey said. "There were zero acts of violence recorded at our last J'Ouvert."

Maddrey acknowledged the events' frustrating history of violence, thwarting even the NYPD's most thorough precautions.

"We know historically the problems that we've had at these events, and it had nothing to do with the people who came out to celebrate their heritage and culture, and the people who came out to have a good time," Maddrey said. "It was a relatively small few, a few bad actors, who came out here to senselessly engage in violence, sometimes just for the sake of doing it."

Those bad actors often haunt Trenelle Gabay who lost her husband Carey in 2015. He was shot in the head when he was caught between a shootout while celebrating J'Ouvert.

"There is no excuse, none whatsoever, to turn to gangs but so often our communities lack the resources," Gabay said.

His legacy now lives on in the Carey Gabay Recreation Center which served as the backdrop Friday as leaders urged the community to learn about the vibrant West Indian culture and not link it to violence.

"We want make sure again that this festivity is a way of celebration of all of the diverse contribution to the Caribbean culture in New York City," GodSquad President Pastor Gil Monrose said.

The J'Ouvert parade begins at 6 a.m., and goes southbound on Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza.

The West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade begins at 11 a.m., and runs westbound along Eastern Parkway from Ralph Avenue.

Police say all bags and other containers will be inspected for firearms and other dangerous weapons and no large backpacks, weapons, or alcohol are permitted

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