By Alexandra Simon
It’s round two for Queens’ sole Caribbean carnival
Far Rockaway’s first and only carnival is returning for its second year on Aug. 18. The “Caribbean Carnival in the Rockaways” comes back next month for another go after a successful debut last summer. The event, created by and spearheaded by State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D–Far Rockaway), brings island culture to the borough’s southern tip, highlighting the various island diasporas that have shaped the neighborhood, he said.
“Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean culture and it’s a celebration of all the big and little islands — even Long Island,” he said. “And the celebration is part of celebrating the contributions of the people of African descent who are of Caribbean heritage, and we are thrilled to have this in the Rockaways.”
The inaugural event kicked off last year, bringing carnival colors and music to Far Rockaway’s residents. With the help of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) — which organizes the city’s biggest carnival parade on Labor Day in Crown Heights, the pol enlisted the group’s help to put it together and organized the festival to also prepare its residents the for the grand parade.
“We’ve been working with WIADCA and we have ensured that people will get a taste of theirs — we consider our carnival an appetizer to get you ready for the big one,” he said.
Before the introduction of this miniature Caribbean carnival, there was never been an event of its magnitude in Queens, yet alone in Far Rockaway. But Sanders adds that his constituents are one of the reasons he was thrilled to bring it.
“We’ve never had it at this level, and we feel blessed to have such a growing population of Caribbean people from every island you can think of,” said Sanders.
Sanders said last year’s carnival honored some Caribbean heroes such as calypsonian artists Mighty Sparrow and Lord Nelson. But this year he said they will be highlighting the everyday people who have done outstanding work in their communities.
“Every year we try to honor our heroes, and we want to cast these giants and make sure everyone knows them, and we also want to celebrate the variety,” he said. “We want everyone to get out there and represent your island.”
This year the carnival will be three hours longer than its previous, ending at 8 pm instead of 5 pm.
“Caribbean Carnival in the Rockaways” [Beach 20th Street and Seagirt Boulevard in Far Rockaway, Aug. 18, 11 am–8 pm. Free.