4th Annual Queens Caribbean Carnival Returns This Saturday!
This Saturday, August 27, the Caribbean’s most festive street party is gearing up for a massive return to Rockaway—the 4th Annual Queens Caribbean Carnival (formerly the Caribbean Carnival in the Rockaways). So, get ready and ‘wave yuh’ flag with the anticipated droves of feathered masqueraders, prancing off from Mott Avenue and Beach 21st Street, and winin’ down on the boardwalk at Beach 17th Street.
The festivities kick off at 11 a.m. and go ‘til dark. In addition to the beach party and live music concert, for the first time, the day’s festivities will also include a sandcastle building contest from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and fireworks display at sundown, both on Beach 17th Street.
The Carnival, returning after a three-year Covid induced pause, is presented in partnership Senator James Sanders Jr.; the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA); Rockaway Development Revitalization Corporation (RDRC); REMA4US; Beach 17th Concessionaire, DredSurfer Grill; NYC Parks Department; 101st Police Precinct; and the Queens Carnival Committee members. This year’s theme: “One Day—Many Ways To Have Fun!”
In a statement, Sanders’ office said, “Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, and what better way to celebrate that diversity, especially in Rockaway, than with a family-friendly Caribbean Carnival that welcomes all people. Out of many, we are one. That’s the motto of Trinidad—‘Together we aspire, together we achieve.’
“Carnival aims to celebrate Caribbean arts and culture, while highlighting the hidden jewel that is the Rockaways. Sen. Sanders invites people of all nationalities from all over the city and beyond to join him for this event. There will be good food, good company. Come and make a friend. We are going to have a ball.”
As for the name change from Caribbean Carnival in the Rockaways to Queens Caribbean Carnival, Lisa George, Sen. Sanders’ office manager and constituent liaison, said that the Carnival was expanded to a celebration for the whole borough.
“After listening to feedback both from Rockaway locals and constituents in other areas of Queens, we wanted people to know that this is a Carnival for all of Queens. Brooklyn has their Carnival, and now Queens has their own Carnival, and what better place to host it than on the beach in Rockaway.
“So yes, Rockaway, we own it, but this is for all of Queens, including our constituents in Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Jamaica and other areas. And they are all coming out to show support. They’re going to be part of the masquerade, and vending; selling arts and crafts and food, as well representing various community-based organizations— all reflective of Caribbean culture.”
Also, according to George, due to the anticipated number of people, estimated in the thousands, the Carnival Committee partnered with the Black Spectrum Theater to expand the stage. “The stage at Beach 17th is not equipped to handle the amount of electricity that will be required to produce all the entertainment. So, bringing in a bigger stage, production equipment and crew, shows that our Carnival is growing,” George said.
This year’s Carnival headlines major music performers from the Caribbean including: soca artists, DJ Cheem known for the hit, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes Ba Ba Ben” song); Beniton and General Grant; plus, chutney soca artist, Ajala. Also, on board entertaining the droves of Carnival lovers is HOT 97’s popular reggae/dancehall deejays, Bobby Konders and Jabba.
Leading the parade of masqueraders will be 10 floats, representing the English, Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean. For example, Far Rockaway’s founder of the NY Careers Training School, Nancy Martinez’s float will represent Latin Caribbean countries, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic; accompanied by DJs from Spanish radio station, La Mega 97.9 FM.
In the Caribbean and South American countries such as Brazil, Carnival or “Carnaval” is celebrated before the commencement of the Lenten season. Historically it is known to be a season of festive abandonment extending from Christmas to Ash Wednesday. Today, it is celebrated with massive costumed parades and music, and has since spread all over the U.S., plus, Canada, England and other parts of Europe.
According to Carnival Committee Entertainment Chair Veronica Britt, the event also gives costume designers an opportunity to showcase their artistic capabilities.
“This year’s Carnival will feature costumes by designers, ENJ Productions, Miss Diane, plus Brooklyn-based Freaks Mas, who generously donated costumes to masqueraders. For those who still want to get a costume and join a band in the parade, it’s not too late. Registration for costumes is still open with ENJ Productions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Earl at 917-586-5332,” Britt said.
Also, bring your appetite as there will be a variety of food vendors tantalizing attendees with a cornucopia of cuisine from all over the Caribbean.
For George, who has been one of driving forces of the Carnival from its beginnings, the event not only gives people a time to destress and embrace all facets of Caribbean culture, but also an opportunity to attract economic activity in the community.
“I want people to know that when you think of Carnival, don’t forget the economic development engine it drives to a community, and especially coming back after the pandemic, we need this. This gives us a reason to come out, celebrate life, and Caribbean culture.
“I want to look back at this time 10 or even twenty years from now, and feel good that I was a part of pioneering and growing this event for all to enjoy in the community,” George shared.
So, no need to travel outside of Rockaway for the ultimate Caribbean beach party. This Saturday, play mas right here in Rockaway!
For more information about the 2022 Queens Caribbean Carnival, including participation as a masquerader or vendor, contact Sen. Sanders’ office at 718-523-3069, email: LisaGeorgeCarnival@gmail.com or visit: https://linktr.ee/queenscarnival2022
By Kami-Leigh Agard