Carnival in New York

Ms. Jessie Wardell and some of her West Indian friends started the Carnival in Harlem in the 1930′s by staging costume parties in large enclosed places – like the Savoy, Renaissance and Audubon Ballrooms due to the cold wintry weather of February. This is the usual time for the pre-Lenten celebrations held in most countries around the world. However, because of the very nature of Carnival and the need to parade in costume to music – in door confinement did not work.

The earliest known Carnival street activity was held during the 1940′s when Ms. Wardell, secured the first street permit for a parade type event on the streets of Harlem. During the 1960′s, another Trinidadian – Rufus Goring, brought Carnival to Brooklyn. In 1967, Goring passed the reigns over to Carlos Lezama, who became president of WIADCA and who nurtured the organization and carnival celebrations till 2001, when, due to his ill-health he retired and his daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark served as president till 2011. Thomas Bailey was elected president in 2012. All lived in Trinidad & Tobago during their early lives.

“The New York Caribbean Carnival Parade” has grown over the years from thousands of participants and tourists to over 1 million people in attendance since the mid – 1990′s according to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The influx of tourists from all over the world has benefited New York City on an economic level, most recognizably with large corporations, small businesses and the tourist/service industries.


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