fire girls Fire Girls In the 1920s, immigrants from Trinidad and other Caribbean islands with a carnival tradition began celebrating Carnival in private spaces in Harlem. These celebrations took place during the traditional pre-Lenten period. In the mid-1940s, Trinidadian Jesse Waddle (sometimes spelled Wattle) organized a street festival held on Labor Day, on 7th Avenue in Harlem. The parade permit for Harlem was revoked in 1964 following a disturbance. Five years later, a committee headed by Carlos Lezama obtained permission to parade on Eastern Parkway. That committee became the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association, now a well-established organization. Lezama headed the organization through many years of growth, retiring at the age of 78 in 2001. His daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark, was subsequently elected President.
Events are held every year from the Thursday before Labor Day through the weekend, culminating in the parade on Labor Day itself. The parade now proceeds from Utica Avenue along Eastern Parkway to Grand Army Plaza. Highlights include a steel band competition, a Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) extravaganza and a special Kiddie Carnival which runs from President Street to the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. bird boy Bird Boy
What is the West Indian-American Day Carnival? The centerpiece of the Carnival is the extraordinarily colorful parade that wends its way down Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. Thousands of masqueraders dance their way along miles of Parkway flanked by dense crowds of onlookers. Floats loaded with elaborately costumed revelers illustrate a particular theme chosen by each parading group, masquerade band or camp for that year. Each masquerade camp or "mas" works feverishly and with great skill to produce imaginative and spectacular costumes and to compete for cash prizes. In 1974, a designer made mammoth leaves with mosquitoes on them; trees with beehives; grasshoppers and caterpillars; squirrels eating nuts; logs bearing orchids; foam-rubber poinsettias and hibiscus. Past themes include A Tribute to Bob Marley, Caribbeans Unite, Samba Brazil, Baila Baila, African Feelings in We, In the Garden of Good and Evil, Seascape, Jewels of de City, Bees Melody and Gladiators. The pageantry and excitement, and extraordinary inventiveness, mechanical ingenuity and vibrant color of the costumes and floats are hard to convey in words. sun and moon Sun and Moon
Preparations for Carnival begin months in advance. Masqueraders may be committed to a particular club or band, which selects a designer who provides drawings and a concept for the entire display. Other masqueraders may seek out a band that takes their fancy. Each camp will produce numerous, sometimes hundreds of costumes embodying the camp concept. The king and queen costumes are the most elaborate, while those for the ancillary characters are less complex. Creations may involve construction using wire, fabric and many other materials (see "West Indian Carnival facts at a glance"). Costumes are the property of the masquerader or in some cases the collective property of the club. Cash prizes are given to the bands on the basis of their originality, beauty and performance.
Carnival is much more than the parade and costumes, though. Music plays an important part in creating such an exhilarating atmosphere. Visitors to the festival might hear calypso, which grew out of traditional folk music in Trinidad and Tobago; soca, a contemporary offshoot of calypso that is performed by large bands with drums, congas, bass, guitars, keyboards, saxophones, brass and backing vocalists; rap; and reggae, a style with Jamaican roots.
Perhaps the most characteristic sound of the Carnival is the steel band. When drums were banned by the British government in Trinidad, Trinidadians began using all kinds of objects as percussion instruments. Steel bands began developing in the 1930s and 1940s when musicians discovered that a dented section of an oil drum could produce a note. Tuners began experimenting to produce tuned "pans" and soon formed groups of players. At the Carnival, steel bands play to win the "Panorama" competition, although in the parade itself amplified bands tend to overwhelm the purely acoustic steel band sound. From http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/... ed and his speaker box, Ed and his Speaker box..BRONX, NY, Saudi Arabia