NEW YORK >> One of the largest U.S. celebrations of Caribbean culture, a colorful and joyful spectacle featuring thousands of revelers, musicians, dancers and costumed troupes, was held Monday amid a backdrop of tight security.
The daylong party, featuring a morning festival called J’ouvert and an afternoon Caribbean Carnival parade, brought out smiling throngs, bouncing to the steel-drum beat of Brooklyn’s melting-pot Labor Day tradition.
“I’m Guyanese, Trini, Panamanian, Puerto Rican and Jamaican,” reveler Imani Woods told WCBS, expressing enthusiasm for a day of dancing and good food.
The day’s curtain-opener, J’ouvert, which combines the French words “jour” and “ouvert” and means daybreak, has been held for decades in the pre-dawn darkness, but there was serious talk of canceling the party this year.
Shootings near the march route have long been a concern. In 2015, an aide to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was killed by a stray bullet. Last year, 17-year-old Tyreke Borel was shot and killed and a 72-year-old woman was grazed in the arm. Soon after, a 22-year-old woman, Tiarah Poyau, was shot in the head just a block away and died.
“Tiarah lost her life due to senseless violence at last year’s J’Ouvert celebration,” Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday in a Twitter statement accompanied by heart-wrenching video Poyau’s tearful mother and uncle.
This year, the bands played on — and the mayor’s follow-up tweet called J’Ouvert “beautiful and joyous”— as officials ramped up security and moved the starting time from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Police officers patted down revelers, vendors and residents hours before that.
Some people complained of long delays getting past checkpoints.
Others refused to let the hassles get in the way of a good time: Online video showed one woman dancing with her arms outstretched as an officer ran a hand-held metal detector over her.