More Than 500,000 Expected For Pre-Dawn Event And They Will Be Met By Barriers, Light Towers And Security Checkpoints

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of the city’s largest parades is happening Monday — the West Indian American Day carnival.

But first, the celebration will begin with a pre-dawn festival known as J’Ouvert.

CBS2’s Marc Liverman reported Sunday evening from right where the parade will start. Participants are expected to line up starting at 2 a.m. Barriers were placed along both sides of the route and police security was expected to be tight.

It’s a legendary annual celebration, but one that’s seen its share of violence. Two people were shot to death two years ago. The year before that, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo was struck and killed by a stray bullet.

J'Ouvert

Revelers are searched by police officers during a Caribbean street carnival called J’ouvert on Sept. 4, 2017, in Brooklyn. J’ouvert, which draws tens of thousands of costumed celebrants, has been plagued by violence in recent years resulting in new intensive security measures. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

The NYPD said this year it is prepared to keep residents and spectators safe.

“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.

MOREFlatbush Company Fashions Sparkling West Indian Day Parade Displays

Also like last year, police will have light towers all along the route, but this year they’ll add even more, CBS2’s Liverman reported.

“A few more light towers. We’re going to push them a little bit farther away from the parade route, so that’s another difference we’ve learned from last year,” NYPD Brooklyn Borough Cmdr. Brian Conroy said.

“There will be a substantial number, over 300 light towers activated,” de Blasio added. “It’s not just going to be light towers on the parade route, but in some cases on the surrounding blocks as well to create a safer environment.”

The J’Ouvert parade route will also be adding a 13th secure entry point, one more than last year.

Barriers went up Sunday as nearly half a million people are expected to attend J’Ouvert. More than a million are expected to show up by 10 a.m. for the West Indian Day Parade. Police said last year’s event was violent free. Spectators CBS2 spoke with were hoping this year’s will be the same.

“It’s good to see the police out on the road, know that they’re there and they’re going to have a whole heap of them,” Silleta Davis said.

“Hopefully we can all get along and discourage the violent forces that be, I guess,” Crown Heights resident Michael Wilson said.

“Police presence and stuff like that makes criminals and stuff like that not want to even participate in criminal activity,” added Samuel Oliver of Park Slope.

“People come out to enjoy themselves, kids, adults and the atmosphere is always good, so anybody that is going to try to hurt the parade in any way, the law have to do what it’s supposed to do,” Oswald Black said.

But others said they’re worry the ramped-up security just won’t be enough.

“It’s going to be in the back of your head because we already know the history, the pattern of history,” Crown Heights resident Nyomie Monier said. “The only thing that’s going to stop the violence is the people. There’s no amount of security, cops, can actually do. (It) has nothing to do with it.”

And for some, extra security comes at a cost. One that not all spectators will be happy to bear.

“Now you’re cutting corners and going down unnecessary streets that you didn’t need to just to get over there like no, so it becomes aggravating,” said Lionel Irvin of Crown Heights.

Police will be checking all bags for weapons and alcohol, Liverman reported.