J'ouvert festivities kick off with food, music in Brooklyn

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Tuesday, September 5, 2023
J'ouvert celebrations kick off in Brooklyn
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Labor Day weekend in Brooklyn is all about one of the biggest cultural celebrations in the city.

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- People were partying in the streets of Brooklyn early Monday when the Caribbean Carnival festivities officially kicked off.

Though the New York Caribbean Carnival started at 11 a.m., the cultural celebration of J'ouvert began earlier in the morning.

With that, came food, music, and colorful costumes in Brooklyn starting at around 6 a.m.

"I'm originally from Jamaica so it's going to be a great experience listening to the music and participating in the parade," said Bianca Brown.

"My parents are originally from Haiti and I grew up hearing these vibes, hearing this music, and it's always just been a way for us to get together and enjoy each other's company," said Betty Louis.

The flags of Caribbean nations waved proudly along Eastern Parkway.

WABC-TV is a proud sponsor of the Caribbean Carnival. Watch the parade live on Monday, September 4 starting at 11:00 a.m. wherever you stream ABC 7 New York.

"It's just an exciting time for the community. This Carnival is one of the largest carnivals in America, but it also brings in 300 million dollars of revenue activity for the weekend, so it's a very exciting time for the Caribbean American community," said Assemblymember Brian Cunningham.

The whole weekend of events included Panorama on Saturday night - recreating a tradition from Trinidad with a competition of steelpan musicians who came up with elaborate arrangements.

"It comes from classical music, so it's like listening to a symphony orchestra of steel," said Steel Sensation musician Tristan Japsi.

"Steelpan represents a bit of turning into your spirituality and really just joining in as a community and really embracing ourselves and our culture," added Louis.

The Kiddies Carnival was held for the youngest in the community exploring traditions.

J'ouvert celebrations in the morning at Grand Army Plaza and the parade later in the day along the Parkway were major security events for the NYPD, as the department worked to keep weapons and alcohol out of the mix with checkpoints.

This year's police presence featured the debut of drones, which can get to a location within seconds when police are called to help disperse crowds with 50 different prerecorded messages.

The drones also helped police decide whether to deploy more resources.

Mayor Adams and the NYPD insisted on Friday that the drones would only be sent in response to 911 calls and not to spy on anyone's backyard barbecue.

In fact, the drones were used Monday night as police dealt with sporadic pockets of disorderly behavior as the parade drew to a close.

Officials say three people were injured when a fight between two groups broke out at 1187 Eastern Parkway, near the beginning of the parade route.

"We had a large crowd on this corner, there was definitely gonna be retaliation, we called out our drone technology to see what we're looking at density wise and now you see what happened," Chell said. "Pull the drone out, put some cops on the corner and now we're much safer than we were an hour ago. And that's the name of the game."

Two of the victims were taken to Brookdale Hospital, while one refused medical attention. All of the victims are expected to be ok.

Meanwhile, Sunday's pre-Carnival event, called Sunrise Day Soiree, was a showcase of Caribbean food, fashion, and music.

It had a more laid back feel and ended early, as people were eager to rest before the early morning festivities.

It was a chance for final prep work into Monday's homemade food and costumes - so much time, love, and effort go into those.

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