NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn’s Caribbean community is keeping some bold and bright traditions on display this holiday weekend even though Monday’s West Indian-American Day parade must be a virtual affair this year.
The carnival has been scaled way down to bare bones and brought inside the Flatbush Caton Market, a big-hearted but deliberately small taste of Caribbean culture.
The beloved parade that was always eye-poppingly packed pre-pandemic must move online.
“We have to make sure that people can remain safe, so virtual events is the way to go and what I’m recommending,” New York City Councilmember Farah Lewis told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Lewis says she’s glad Caton Market, with its 30 vendors, is a place to experience music, check out an exhibit of carnival costumes and support merchants.
“Really, it’s the small businesses that keep our culture and our community alive. So this is an opportunity here for us to think about how these small businesses are suffering during COVID,” Lewis said.
“We definitely have to come to support because if we don’t buy, they won’t eat,” one patron said.
Organizers say there is flash and flavor that can never be fully dialed down.
“This is our day to have fun, remember where we come from, our culture and give thanks,” Flatbush resident Pauline Massiah said.
“We live out our Caribbean-ness from within. It’s our history, it’s our culture, it’s who we are,” said Lisa Thompson, director of the Flatbush Caton Market. “Collectively, we come together to support each other. In the absence of the parade, we’re still here as a community.”
She sums it up this way — while there may be a little less heat this year, there can be much more heart.
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