NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The annual West Indian American Day Parade is a celebration of Caribbean pride. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s big event is canceled.

However, local businesses in Brooklyn are finding different ways to celebrate, safely.

Tens of thousands come from all over the world to take in food, colorful costumes and music during the New York Caribbean Carnival.

“Usually from Friday, we don’t sleep until Monday night. We open up all around the clock,” McDonald Romain, owner of Labay Market, told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas on Thursday.


For Labay Market on Nostrand Avenue, the celebrations have been great for business. But this year will be different.

Down the street at Rain Eatery, owner and head chef Kevin Skinner is still celebrating through a special menu that will provide more authentic Trinidadian flavors.

“We’re having curry-cue, we’re having soca music and reggae music. Just going to bring you a spice of each island,” said Skinner.

And starting Friday afternoon, music will also greet guests waiting in line for the famous currant roll and other treats at Allan’s Bakery.

“Maybe our customers coming here and we have a DJ that might make them feel like they can do a little dance while they’re online,” co-owner Sharon Smith said.

FLASHBACKWest Indian American Day Parade, J’Ouvert Festival Celebrate Caribbean Culture

This area is called Little Caribbean, after all. The pandemic may have stopped the parade and parties, but Shelley Worrell hopes it doesn’t dampen the spirit.

“We still live here. There are still a number of businesses that we patronize. We can still listen to music. We can still eat the food. So I think there will be alternative ways that we can still uplift each other and be in community,” said Worrell, the creator of caribBeing.

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This year may be far from normal, but it’s still all about the vibe, proudly honoring the Caribbean culture, even if it has to be at a distance.

The official New York Caribbean Carnival is still going to have programming this year, just online. They are going to be streaming music on Monday on various social media platforms. But they say if you join via Zoom, you’re still expected to wear a costume.

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