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West Indian Day Parade in NYC: What to know about the Crown Heights celebration

The event features elaborate costumes honoring Caribbean culture.

The annual West Indian Day Parade is held

The annual West Indian Day Parade is held on Labor Day in Crown Heights. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

It wouldn't be Labor Day in New York City without the West Indian Day Parade taking over Crown Heights.

One of the most popular Labor Day events in the area, the parade brings culture and celebration to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

Also known as the New York Caribbean Carnival Parade, the seven-hour event features elaborate costumes from a number of Caribbean nations. Paradegoers can also expect to hear celebratory steel drums being played by marchers.

The parade is organized by the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), which puts on multiple cultural events throughout the year, from live music performances to workshops for children. 

According to the WIADCA, the first outdoor Carnival street celebrations took place in Harlem in the '40s, before it moved to Crown Heights in 1969, where the celebration has taken place ever since.

The parade follows the annual J'Ouvert festival, which will begin at 6 a.m. Monday. In the past, the event had started earlier in the morning, but after multiple instances of violence, including the 2015 shooting death of Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the city pushed up the start time. More security also was added in 2017.

“Like last year the parade route will be closed to the public the night before and also like last year the parade will not start until it becomes light out around 6 a.m.,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday, ahead of the long weekend.

Here are more details about the J'Ouvert festival and the West Indian Day Parade:

J'Ouvert

When: Labor Day, Sept. 3 at 6 a.m. (participants will start lining up at 2 a.m., the NYPD said)

Where: Starting at Grand Army Plaza, the parade goes south on Flatbush Avenue, turns east on Empire boulevard, then proceeds south on Nostrand Avenue, ending at Midwood street.

West Indian Day Parade

When: Labor Day, Sept. 3; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (participants will start lining up around 10 a.m.)

Where: The parade runs on Eastern Parkway, beginning at Schenectady Avenue and ending at Grand Army Plaza.

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