FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG HOSTS RECEPTION IN HONOR OF THE 40th ANNUAL WEST INDIAN-AMERICAN DAY CARNIVAL AND PARADE
Mayor Renames Netball Courts in Lincoln Terrace Park after Founding President Carlos Lezama
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion to celebrate The 40th Anniversary of the West Indian-American Day Carnival and Parade. The parade is a Labor Day tradition that began in Harlem in the early 1920s and moved to Brooklyn in the mid 1960s. Today, it is the largest West Indian festival and parade in the United States with over three million people from numerous countries participating each year. Mayor Bloomberg also announced the re-naming of the netball courts in Lincoln Terrace Park, Brooklyn, in memory of Carlos Lezama. Joining Mayor Bloomberg at tonight's reception were Deputy Mayor for Policy Dennis Walcott, West Indian American Day Carnival Association President Yolanda Lezama-Clark. The Mayor also honored several New Yorkers for their contributions to the West Indian Community and to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association including: Manager of Community Relations for Moet Hennessy USA, Sybil Chester; Deputy Chief Brooklyn North for the Department of Sanitation, Garry Guyer; Musician in the Harmonites Steelband, Vincent Hueloy Lila and Board Member and Treasurer of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, Angela Sealy.
"Nothing showcases the energy and diversity of our Caribbean community like the West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Every year, New Yorkers look forward to the pulsating rhythms of the steel drums, colorful costumes of the carnival, and the pure excitement of the islands that have become trademarks of this Labor Day tradition. The parade not only showcases the best of our Caribbean and West-Indian communities but serves as a reminder that because of our immigrant communities, our city is thriving and our best days are yet to come.
The Mayor will march in this year's parade, which will take place on Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn along Eastern Parkway from Rochester Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. The West Indian-American Day Carnival begins each year, with a breakfast in Lincoln Terrace Park where the three netball courts the Mayor is dedicating in honor of Carlos Lezama are located. Mr Lezama was the founding president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and a Caribbean Carnival icon, known as "The Father of Brooklyn's Carnival." Under the stewardship of Mr. Lezama, the Brooklyn Caribbean Carnival grew from a five-block affair to the largest carnival parade in the United States. Mr. Lezama passed away in January 2007. Netball is a sport similar to and derived from basketball, which is now popular in many countries including Jamaica and Barbados.
Guests enjoyed the music of Pan Fusion, a Caribbean band, and were entertained by the Brooklyn Jumbies, stilt walkers who greeted guests at the reception. CASYM Steelband performed outside as guests entered Gracie Mansion. This evening's reception was made possible by food and beverage donations from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York, Heineken, USA, Moët Hennessy USA, Allan's Bakery, the Door Restaurant, Sybil's of Guyana Restaurant and Bakery, Tower Isles Frozen Food, Tropical Paradise Restaurant, and Veggie Castle.
Five days of Caribbean heritage and tradition will take center stage in Flatbush, Brooklyn from August 30 to September 3, 2007 sponsored and produced by the West Indian-American Day Carnival Association. Approximately 3.5 million people are expected to attend, which includes visitors from all over the world. Originating from festivities that took place in ancient Kemet (Egypt), the present-day Carnival Parade fuses Egyptian customs with African influenced Mardi Gras celebrations. The Carnival creates an environment where people can participate in the creativity of different cultures while celebrating their similarities and diversities, which emulate the history of Carnival and demonstrate the strength of the Caribbean American community in New York City, which numbers more than 2 million people.
Stu Loeser/Evelyn Erskine (212) 788-2958