West Indian Day Parade 2012: What You Need to Know

Schedule, route and tips for enjoying Prospect Heights' biggest party of the year.


The West Indian American Day Carnival that began Thursday culminates on Monday with J'Overt and the Parade. Here's what you need to know:



According to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, the name, J'Ouvert, comes from the French "jour ouvert" or daybreak, and began in Trinidad in 1937.

The event begins at 2 a.m. on Grand Army Plaza in front of the library, and travels southeast, ending on Nostrand Avenue and Linden Boulevard.

"In keeping with tradition, steel drums are the only forms of music that will be played. Revelers in J'Ouvert wear costumes also, but unlike Carnival day, J'Ouvert costumes are inexpensive and are often creations that mock political issues, celebrities, and prominent events," WIACA's website explains.


WIADCA's Tips:

1- Paint, powder and dye will be thrown; wear dispensible clothing.

2- Dress warmly against the early morning August chill and wear comfortable shoes.

3-Bring your own whistle or bottle and spoon to play along with the steel band.


Labor Day Parade and Carnival

The parade route begins at the corner of Rochester and Eastern Parkway and ends at Grand Army Plaza. It begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m.

The biggest parade in New York, the event is expected to get 3 million participants this year, according to WIADCA.

Participants wear elaborately designed costumes. There are also "huge sound trucks," some with live performers.         

WIADCA's Tips:

1- Come out early. The parade gets bigger each year with over 2 million participants on the Parkway. Police crowd barriers make it difficult to walk around, so you should find a good spot early where you can see clearly. You should be very patient; the thickness of the crowd makes things move slowly.

2. Dress comfortably. Wear shoes that you can walk long distances in. people will be stepping on your toes so open toe sandals are not recommended

3. Drink plenty of water. The sun will be on your head for hours, coupled with the crowds; it is easy to get dehydrated. Some people have been known to faint from being overwhelmed with heat so it is important to stay cool

4. Bring your flag! Represent your country with your national flag or rag. Don't be the one left out!


Street Closures during the West Indian American Day Parade and Festival



  • Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
  • Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
  • East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue


  • Eastern Parkway between Rochester Avenue and Grand Army Plaza


  • Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue

Miscellaneous closures:

  • Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
  • Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
  • St. John's Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
  • Rochester Avenue between E New York Avenue and Sterling Place
  • Parkside Ave between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
  • Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
  • Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Ave
Amy Sara Clark September 03, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Brother Rudy, I did not in any way mean to be disrespectful and got the tips and information from the West Indian American Day Carnival Association's website. What was disrespectful about the article? -Amy
Brother Rudy September 03, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I love the parade...not the negative that is sometimes attached to it.
dave r September 03, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Amy after last year I do not know that I would bring a small child what over 40 shot and 2 dead? Sounds like keeping up the culture to me...
Schneur Zalman September 03, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I am an orthodox Jew that lives on Eastern Parkway, and here is what I have to say about the parade: the West Indian people are some of the nicest and happiest people around. It's a pleasure to walk around seeing them prepare and celebrate. As for the noise? I personally don't mind. More importantly, we will have our own festival in a month that will include loud music through four nights. I'm proud to live in a place that enables cultural/religious celebrations. And yes we have to be tolerant of others' celebrations, which may be uncomfortable to others at times. Anyone that doesn't get that either is utterly selfish, doesn't have a culture of their own, or doesn't appreciate cultural diversity; in which case they don't belong in NYC!
$weet P September 03, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Amy go when it begins & stand by Grand Army Plaza. Don't plan on staying too long. In the future bring him to the Kiddie Carnival which is held every Saturday at Grand Army Plaza prior to the Monday actual parade. As for people complaining, it's once a year you'll live. I was born & raised in Crown Heights prior to moving to Clinton H & they've already made tweeks & adjustments to shorten the parade. It's not going anywhere & don't worry if you have to work just close your windows & turn on a fan :-)
Amy Sara Clark September 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Sweet P, Thanks for the advice! -Amy
$weet P September 03, 2012 at 03:09 PM
@Schneur thank you for your comment. As I stated in mine I lived in Crown Heights & I lived on the Hasidic/Orthodox side & I know many from your community didn't care for the parade. Thanks for pointing out that you guys actually have a 4 day parade that's held late at night lol. I love Brooklyn & the cultural diversity. This is why I know about the closed windows/turn on fan solution for noise.
Steven September 03, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I live here, the woman peeing in my flowers at 9 AM that me and my 3 year old daughter ran into this morning doesn't. Maybe she should start a new amazing tradition and pee in her own neighborhood.
Brother Rudy September 03, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thank you for understanding...this is how 'We' do it. Although (devils advocate ;-\ ),I take exception to singuling out West Indians as some of the 'nicest and happiest people'. I think all people of color are pretty nice...even African-American as I am one of the aforementioned :-) Each community has its scourges that they are not so proud of. Overall, we need to understand the brotherhood of man and issues that divide us. These issue have been around a long time putting brother (white, black) against brother. Then there is the issue of illicit drugs that feed some and steal from others...its complicated but not unsolvable. Anyway, let me head on out to the celebration, where I can dance, smile, see pretty ladies and thank God for another beautiful day in Brooklyn.
Steven September 03, 2012 at 03:51 PM
If you like parades, this is a good one. If you are like me and think that parades are hot, crowded messes of drunk and dumb humanity at their worst, this one is pretty bad. That said, I blame the violence and poor behavior that sometimes comes with this parade on it's sheer size alone.
Brother Rudy September 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Steven....I was going to call you Steve but you might take exception to that also. Steven get over it. Pls don't entertain the ridiculous. Let me teach you the basic facts of life. Sometimes when one is out "Partying" and there is no accommodations, one has to do what you gotta do. I'm sure she's not proud, but when mother nature calls, you respond. As for your child just shield the child, do not make a spectacle and take the opportunity to teach your child, "The Facts of Life in NYC".
Steven September 03, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Thanks for your patronizing life and parenting advice Brother Rudy. I just thought that as people are praising the parade and acting offended about criticisms of the parade, they could consider that there are indeed more negatives to the parade than just noise. Also, most of the 3 million visitors to the parade are just that, visitors. They are guests of our neighborhoods and should act as such. Or I guess we could do as you suggest and not bother trying to act like humans since we live in new york.
Brother Rudy September 03, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Steve you made some good points. People are people. That same poor behavior can be found in Chelsea, Tribeca, and in other communities where people gather in large crowds in our city. The drinking...one day a year...end of summer...its not pretty for your community but nothing is perfect in our perfect worlds. So with that said, go get a flag and a beer and represent. Be sure when this day is over you meet some of your neighborhood kids and treat them to something that you enjoy. Maybe it just might break the cycle of intolerance. Think you can do that?
Brother Rudy September 03, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Steven we try not to live in a police state. As an American society we have found it just doesn't work. I do believe in law and above all else order. But these are not absolutes. Patronizing, no. Just taking the opportunity to share my perspective. No insult intended. My apology. I just say one day a year is ok. Do it big...sort of like Mardi Gras. Celebrations like this has it liabilities, no doubt. Do we next stop the Running of the Bulls celebration because people drink, get unruly and think they can out run the Bull. No we let people have some "fun", release tension and attend business as usual the follow day.
Amy Sara Clark September 03, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I went to parade with my 2-year-old son and it was great. It wasn't too loud or crowded and we could go right up to the barrier. Both of us had a great time. -Amy
LaReina Cortez September 03, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Dave R, you picked your residence sweetheart. If you have a problem with the parade's location & the music, Invest in ear plugs. Dave R, is there any type of music you just can't live without? Are you passionate about anything in your life? If you have a passion for anything, you would understand.. But I do apologize for not considering Dave R. & his precious sleep when I celebrate my country's independence. LOL! The festivities are the same place & time every year. Go on a mini vacation around Labor day if you cannot respect the love & passion my Bredrin & I have for our Culture. No one made you live where you do. If the music is such a problem and detrimental to your sleeping pattern; MOVE. Simple.
LaReina Cortez September 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
the West Indian Day Parade is an event in which ALL Bredrin of the same sea unite to share in their Pride for their countries. West Indian people are some of the most amazing people in the world. (Yes, Biased opinion for a PROUD West Indian). The negative aspects of the parade are aspects to EVERY TYPE OF PARADE. I attend ALL the major parades (West Indian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, & St. Patty's) so I know there are some A LOT of unenjoyable aspects. But no matter what, I will ALWAYS represent for my countries! If you can't respect the culture, then perhaps NYC isn't the Place for you, honey! BIG UP ALL MY BREDRIN!!!!
donna p September 03, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I think it's Sad that Steven feels this way. Obviously he hasn't lived in Brooklyn long. I have live in brooklyn over 30 years and have enjoyed every bit of it. I enjoy Ju vert and feel it a great way for all who enjoy West Indian culture to take part in. People relieve them self in my flower beds . What you gonna do... nothing they are human and can't find anyplace else. I think Steven needs to get over "himself". Please pardon them. I never consider my self a guest in any neighborhood in "Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn belong to all who love everything about it. I enjoy all of the activities that occur here. Please educate yourself about this event that is enjoyed by the west indians and more. People need to have some fun . Many doctors and nurses enjoy this early morning event. If all else fails then Brooklyn is not for you and the family. Please stop hating and participate. Maybe hire a sitter for the kids and comeout and enjoy.
Steven September 04, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Thanks Brother Rudy, I hope you had a good time today. Peace.
Steven September 04, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Hi Donna, I know you are taking my comments personally or as an assault on your culture. Please don't. I've lived in brooklyn for the past decade and decided to raise my family here because of its various cultures. But please be enough of a grown-up to realize that no one likes strangers using their sidewalks as bathrooms, in front of their children, at 9 AM on a monday morning. Do you really want to be the person who stands up for this behavior as some sort of human right? I expect the values you really stand for are greater than public intoxication and urination and public exposure to toddlers. I think you are mixing fair criticism of indecent acts with some sort of culture war. If you really want to support the parade, do something about all the idiots. Don't become their defender.
MEL PARRISH September 04, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 01:14 PM
I don't mind the parade. Im an orthodox Jew who lives in Mid wood and come every year to Crown heights for the 4 day Jewish all night parade mentioned here. I used to work with some fine young gentleman from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago... if i wouldnt be married i would still be attending the west indies parade every year. My wife doesent go for the half naked costumes and full on dry humping/ grinding... I for one used to love watching the girls from the islands show off what they have to offer... im a musician by trade a drummer and keyboardist so the music... well there really isn't any thing like it it laid back and has a groove of its own... yes culture is to be celebrated... people have their differences and will disrespect this or that because they dont like it public or the way its done ... but nobody wil deny that hey dont love great music , food, booze costumes, island girls shaking their booty all parading about in beautiful weather it actually makes NYC feel like the islands!!! Did i forget to mentioned my kids nanny is form St. Vincent?
Howard G. September 04, 2012 at 02:40 PM
"Rabbi" Mike, If I were one of those girls in the parade, I'd find your comments troubling and misogynistic. "Show off what they have to offer" and "full on dry humping/ grinding" and "island girls shaking their booty?" Is that how you perceive the dances of other cultures? There is nothing beautiful about subjugating and objectifying women and there's no excuse for it in the 21st Century, not even if you're a pimply adolescent with no common sense. It is members of the tribe such as you who make me ashamed to admit that I was born a Jew, you repressed little voyeur. I pity your children's nanny, having to be employed by the likes of you.
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Culture is a beautiful thing. Not trying to make anyone feel uncomfortable Jews and Gentiles alike. Yes the theme of the parade is to celebrate culture. If you take a look at YouTube whether the clips done by people just videoing the parade or those who were videoing the police i think the term they used was "wilding out". There was a definite undertone of promiscuous behavior. There had to be a reason why those officers were reprimanded, wait there were 2 actually if i recall correctly, 1) the officers werent doing their job properly and 2) they were acting in a manner unfitting an NYPD officer. The 2nd reason the city received a lot of flack for. When I mention that people don't appreciate i was pointing out other people's views (such as my wife's) who don't think it is family friendly and belongs on the streets. The fact that i mentioned that my nanny is from thew islands is to show the respect i have for them. I worked side by side with island people for years they are the most polite and honest people one can for with or have work for you. The lines i used that you took offense to such as "booty shaking" etc. Well they're natural culture dances as well as the addition of American hip hop morphed the dances to a grind. .
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I think almost every male coming to view the parade can agree that the reason they came was to watch the girls. heck everyone waned to be in back of everyone. No disrespect meant at all. If a girl dresses up to accentuate her body she wants the people to admire her as is evident by t-shirts worn by some there and pretty much every clip taken at the parade. The fact that You Howard find my comment offensive as a jew, well It is the 21st Century we ive in NYC among many different cultures, We have to learn to celebrate with them on their joyous occasions as they do, We need to learn and practice tolerance and unity .
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 07:40 PM
One doesent have to be to intelligent to realize that the women think of themselves as such.. take a look at the costumes and clips. And you identify with feminists, HA! the actual parade is the antithesis of it I also made it quite clear to everyone here. i support different cultures and the learning of it and have nothing against the parade. Im just calling a spade , a spade. They act in a way that shows they enjoy being the object of attention and usually do it with fervor once they realize they are being recorded. They do it to themselves and if they take offense of it than why do it... your just turning a blind eye to whats actually going on in the name of modernization. Which is fine but dont deny that its going on. you dont have to dilike or disrespect or be mean to say that it is going on.. its like walking into strip club and saying the dancer is fully clothed....
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I see, so the men grinding against the back of the women and the women shaking their bodies provocatively. these people are "respecting" themselves or demanding "respect"? No one isnt going to treat anyone differently, either way, but dont say that they are not there to be objectified as sex objects.....
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 08:48 PM
I only objectified it to the extent that they wanted it to be objectified, and iof you look at my first message i never actually referred to them as objects which is what the literal definition or the outcome of the word actually means. b) i never represented myself as a self proclaimed tzaddik! c) We live in America honey! don't think that everyone who hasnt migrated fro the couple of heavily populated Jewish zip codes is oblivious and lightyears behind you, i am as knowledgeable in the world as everyone else is did i forget to mention my college degrees ( think your comment about a dictionary was inappropriate)?, There is a possibility in my youth i may have actually been to one. d) who has anything against having a wife, and have to keep in line for her. as much as it is the "thing to do " to complain about wive,s i dont have any...
Rabbi Mike September 04, 2012 at 08:49 PM
im happy, and no she is not a sex object. and my nanny mind you has probably the best deal of most... all holidays (minor, major, and jewish) paid for , and shes off... etc.. so before you open your mouth and sound like an ignorant fool and think your ahead of everyone else slow down, i knew exactly what you referring to originally with your complaint you just dont seem to understand the fact that it is ok to want to be identified as an object but its a little hard to say for example when someone dresses immodestly or slutty that she doesent want to objectified as such. and by immodestly i dont mean according to orthodox rules I'm talking about American mode of dress. like i said before it like saying a stripper who bares it all or leaves something on doesent either want to be objectified.... yes they are two worlds apart the parade is based on tradition and the club is based on playing peoples desires but they fundamentally do the same thing . look at the way the males young and old alike react to both... enough said if you misunderstood what i said originally, reread it. If I offended anyone at the parade or in the parade I apologize.
Rabbi Mike September 07, 2012 at 07:03 PM
btw... Howard if you do know anything about their culture... you would know what they call exactly what your describing of my comments... you claim i refer to them as sex objects..... Have you ever heard of POOM-POOM ON DE PARKWAY?..... yes its the reference used for the grinding dances taking place on the parkway during the west indian day parade....


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