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West Indian Parade Celebrates Caribbean Culture on Labor Day

By  Andrea Swalec Meredith Hoffman and Nikhita Venugopal | September 2, 2013 10:54am | Updated on September 2, 2013 3:26pm

 Thousands of parade-goers in elaborate costumes filled Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue on Sept. 2, 2013, Labor Day.
West Indian Day Parade
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BROOKLYN — Thousands of people in stunning carnival costumes turned a huge swath of central Brooklyn into a celebration of Caribbean pride this Labor Day.

Huge crowds lined Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue Monday for the 46th annual West Indian-American Day Parade.

Reggae, salsa, soca and more boomed from speakers on parade floats Monday afternoon as feather-clad parade-goers danced through the streets.

Waving both American and Bahamian flags, 6-year-old Salimah Chalmers Williams said she loved dancing as well as eating vegetable roti and mangoes at the parade.

Her mom, Alice Williams, said trekking to the festivities from their New Jersey home was a way to connect her daughter with their Caribbean roots.

"I want her to experience the food, the music," said Williams, a school social worker.

Three brothers who immigrated to New York from Haiti in 1998 said they attend the parade every year to connect with others who hail from the Caribbean.

"We have to be here, it's a necessity for us to come enjoy this day," Ernst Pierre, a 23-year-old college student who lives on Long Island, said as he and his brothers stood on the parade route shirtless.

Tiffany Eloi and Samantha Johnson, both 19, watched the parade after they had danced all night at the J'Ouvert pre-party. Streaked with body paint, they recharged with oxtail, macaroni and cheese, rice and beans and plantains.

The marchers in the parade included Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner, according to media reports. Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz and comptroller candidates Scott Stringer and Eliot Spitzer were also in attendance, reports said.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at Eastern Parkway and Schenectady Avenue, headed west toward Grand Army Plaza and then turned south on Flatbush Avenue. It was scheduled to end at 6 p.m. at Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard.

Last year's parade was marred by violence, with two men fatally stabbed and another two victims shot, police said. A shootout between police and a gunman after the 2011 parade left an innocent bystander and the shooter dead, plus two police officers wounded.