A kaleidoscope of colors and a cacophony of adrenaline pumping soca rhythms are at the core of the West Indian American Day Carnival (WIADC) parade held on Labor Day along a several mile stretch of Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Commencing on the Thursday night with a display of costumes and climaxing with its Monday afternoon street parade, the WIADC is undoubtedly North America’s largest Caribbean cultural event and NYC’s largest parade But Carnival is also big business.
According to an impact study funded by Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) in 2003, the WIADC generated $86 million dollars for every 1 million attendees. Carnival now boasts over 3 million patrons and the economic impact generated via tourism, local purchases and sale of goods consumed along with mass transit use, exceeds $300 million.
Currently celebrating its 45th anniversary, The West Indian American Day Carnival is financed through grants from various New York city and state agencies, corporate sponsors, fund raising events and private donations; support is slightly down, says the President of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) Thomas Bailey. A former schoolteacher from Port of Spain, Trinidad who spent 27 years working in the collections area of the Dividends and Interest department at Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 1999, Bailey was the secretary of WIADCA prior to being elected President in April 2012, following the December 2011 resignation of Yolanda Lezama-Clarke, daughter of the organization’s founder, the late Carlos Lezama.
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