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New York West Indian Day Parade 2019

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New York West Indian Day Parade 2019

Rain or Shine Carnival Parade in New York - Pouring rain on Monday brought out umbrellas, tarps and only the hardiest partiers for the West Indian American Day Parade this year. Caribbean beats, smoke from big Jerk Machines and plenty of wet Brooklynites filled a long stretch of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights as the annual march celebrating Caribbean culture went off without a hitch despite the bad Labor Day weather. As usual, there were also lots of gorgeous, colorful costumes, many of which represented a particular Caribbean country. “We’re bummed about the rain, but you know what? We’re still going to have a good time,” said Stacy Thomas, 29, who sported a pink ensemble featuring shiny beads, gold jewelry and a massive plume of feathers. She and her friend Keeandra Hilman, 25, had spent hours getting ready in the morning and weren’t about to let the rain keep them from dancing and showing off their costumes. “They showcase a little bit of what the country has to offer,” Hillman said of the outfits. “You can be jumpy. You can be spicy. You can be whatever your country is about.” While the rain came down, Tessa Lewis was camped out with seven family members underneath a blue tent. They came fully prepared with snacks, drinks and folding chairs. “Some people look at this and see half-naked people on the parkway. Me, I see freedom,” said Lewis, who wouldn’t give her age.

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A heavy NYPD presence had been on hand since the pre-parade event known as J’ouvert kicked off at 6 a.m. Monday to prevent the kind of violence that has marred previous years’ festivities. A spate of mayhem — including the deadly shooting of a 50-year-old woman in Flatbush — erupted the night before the parade. But Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams rejected any connection between the incident and the festivities.

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Brooklyn’s annual West Indian Day Parade preserved Monday, with masquerading revelers in colorful, eye-popping costumes turning out to Eastern Parkway despite the pouring rain. “I’ve been waiting for this all year,” said Keiandra Blair, 18, of Brooklyn who marched in the parade for the first time. “Rain or sun, I’m still dancing. Nothing is going to stop me. That’s our culture,” said Blair, who is of Guyanese descent and wore a bikini-style ensemble with blue and white-feathered wings and a blue and white headdress. But the gloomy forecast could not deter parade die-hards. “It got soggy, but I’m still standing,” Sarah Samuel, 23, of Philadelphia said of her homemade costume — white angel’s wings, one of which was so wet it was folding into itself. “No one is going to rain on my parade. I’m still having a good time,” Samuel said.

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“The environment is electrifying – it’s on fire,” said 27-year-old Mischa Clarke who was set to march in the parade along the two-mile route, which started at Ralph Avenue and Eastern Parkway and ended at Grand Army Plaza. “I love it, it’s fun,” she said. “When the music starts I’m in another zone…I love dressing up in costumes.”

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Mayor Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray were similarly undaunted by the rain. De Blasio even ditched his umbrella partway through their procession. “We’re not worried about a little rain right? Rain’s not going to stop us!” de Blasio said to attendees during a breakfast at Lincoln Terrace Park ahead of the parade. “Dance between the rain drops and celebrate this beautiful culture,” the mayor said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also marched in the parade and told reporters “it is one of my favorite parades.” “New York wouldn’t be New York without the West Indian community,” Cuomo said, adding that the rain was “God’s way of blessing the parade.” The governor also took the opportunity to remember his former aide, Carey Gabay, who was fatally shot in 2015 when he got caught in gang crossfire during J’Ouvert – a yearly street fest held at dawn before the West Indian Day Parade. “We announced five scholarships today in his honor,” said Cuomo.

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