New York City’s West Indian American Day Parade joins the ranks of those activities whose sights and sounds will be virtual this time around.
For decades, NYC’s celebrations--one of the largest showcasing Caribbean culture outside of the Caribbean--has featured brightly costumed revellers, steel bands and thumping sound systems but organizers of the main event and J’Overt, have been forced to adapt to COVID-19 measures which will be enforced by New York Police.
The event which will stream on Labor Day, will include pre-recorded messages and performances and will include the themes of anti-police brutality and racism.
The West Indian American Day Carnival Association will host a 12-hour event for Monday, which will begin with messages from speakers followed by a DJ set where registered participants can display their masquerade costumes on Zoom.
"We want people to still be part of the festivities in the best way we know how, and right now virtual is the only option," said Rhea Smith, a vice president of the carnival association.
In August, London’s Notting Hill carnival also had to seek a way around the pandemic. The management team behind the event opted to go digital with virtual concerts.
Notting Hill Carnival Executive Director, Matthew Phillip told Trindad & Tobago’s CNC3 Soyini Grey that what’s being celebrated isn’t quite the same: “It’s not carnival unless you are on the streets. That’s a straight fact. What we did this year was celebrate carnival.”
With the gentrification of Notting Hill, some say going online has actually increased accessibility in some form.
While these online festivities may not satisfy the needs of some of the most ardent revelers, some aspects of the virtual format might be worth adopting in the future to include wider and more diverse geographical participation.
During the 1970s a group of metal workers in Ouro Preto formed a drum group to play at protests. Now they are a popular carnaval bloco. My story for From the South. pic.twitter.com/VDadBqkDe4