West Indian Day Parade – A Labour Day Tradition

September 1, 2008 | by Staff

Brooklyn, NY is the home of the most  West Indians – well outside of the Caribbean.

Every year on Labour Day, they celebrate their rich, multi-ethnic heritage with a huge  parade on Eastern Parkway.  How did this tradition get started?

In the 1920s, immigrants from Trinidad and other Caribbean islands  began celebrating Carnival (during Mardi Gras time – pre Easter)  in  Harlem.  In the mid-1940s, Trinidadian Jesse Waddle  organized a street festival held on Labor Day, on 7th Avenue in Harlem. However following a disturbance, the parade permit for Harlem was revoked in 1964.

Then five years later in 1969, a committee headed by Carlos Lezama obtained permission to parade on Eastern Parkway, and the parade as we know it, was born.

There are lots of food and drink and colorful exotic costumes and dancing till you drop.


Photos from the official website for  The West Indian-American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA)


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