Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Multimedia: West Indian American Junior Carnival

© Lia Chang

© Lia Chang

I am in the midst of photographing a series of botanical portraits for the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation Art Collection, and yesterday was a glorious summer day to photograph at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. © Lia Chang

West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. © Lia Chang

As I entered the Garden from the Eastern Parkway entrance, the strains of steel pan drums and calypso beckoned me to the parking lot of the Brooklyn Museum, where the 42nd annual West Indian American Day Carnival Festival, a celebration of the music, ethnic heritage and cultural pride of those from Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada and other Caribbean nations, was in full swing.
West Indian American Day Carnival on 9 5 09 in Brooklyn, NY. © Lia Chang

West Indian American Day Carnival on 9 5 09 in Brooklyn, NY. © Lia Chang


Brought to the Caribbean by French settlers in the 1700’s, Carnival migrated with immigrants from Trinidad & Tobago to New York in the 1920’s. The celebration is a time of jubilation and wild abandon. After an afternoon spent photographing at the gardens, I passed through the gates to the Festival, which was jammed packed with revelers enjoying the beautiful weather.

Vendor were selling flags, pins, masks, clothing and jewelry of the Caribbean, but I was starving, so I made a beeline for the booths offering Caribbean favorites like Jamaican jerk chicken, Bajan fried flying fish, roti, curried goat and other soul-satisfying treats. Stew ox-tails, a double helping of macaroni and cheese and a peach-pineapple-strawberry fruit smoothie were just the ticket for me, before I went backstage to photograph the wee ones in the West Indian American Day Kiddie Carnival and Costume competition.

Aquarium, whose theme this year is Asia: Looking for Carmen San Diego, onstage at the 42nd annual West Indian American Day Kiddie Carnival and costume competition in Brooklyn, NY on September 5, 2009. Photo by Lia Chang

Aquarium, whose theme this year is Asia: Looking for Carmen San Diego, onstage at the 42nd annual West Indian American Day Kiddie Carnival and costume competition In Brooklyn, NY on September 5, 2009. Photo by Lia Chang


Splendors of the Amazon, Children of the Empire and Asia: Looking for Carmen San Diego, were among the themes this year jumpstarting the creativity of the children who have a hand in creating their own elaborate and intricate costumes. Jasawn Pryce, age 12, as part of the group Aquarium, whose theme this year is Asia: Looking for Carmen San Diego, chose to make a “dragon slayer” costume.
Children of the Empire theme at the West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. (c) Lia Chang

Children of the Empire theme at the West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. (c) Lia Chang

The weekend long party continues with a Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) celebration; an early Monday morning (starting around 3AM) J’Ouvert parade, a celebration of steel pan drums that kicks off the 2009 Labor Day Carnival Parade on Eastern Parkway in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on Monday, September 7.

Splendor of the Amazon theme at the West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. (c) Lia Chang

Splendor of the Amazon theme at the West Indian American Day Carnival on 9/5/09 in Brooklyn, NY. (c) Lia Chang


Grand Marshals for the 2009 Labor Day Carnival Parade include New York State Governor David A. Paterson, General Colin L. Powell (Ret), Mark Cornell, CEO-Moet Hennessy USA, Hon. Yvette D. Clarke, US Congresswoman, NY Senator John Sampson and Joseph J. Esposito and NYPD Chief of the Department. WIADCA’s president, Yolanda Lezama-Clark will join New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David A. Paterson and Grand Marshals to cut the symbolic ribbon at Utica Ave & Eastern Parkway at 11am. The line up will feature over 70 Floats and thousands of colorful masqueraders depicting spectacular and breathtaking creations.

The West Indian-American Day Carnival Association, Inc. (WIADCA) is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization established in 1967 and is the driving force behind the West Indian Carnival Festival Parade in Brooklyn. While WIADCA is most known for the affectionately named, “Labor Day Parade,” its main focus is to develop, teach and promote Caribbean arts and culture in the New York Metropolitan Area.

For more information go to www.wiadca.com For general information, call: 718-467-1797.


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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2011 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachang@hotmail.com.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang


Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.

Selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space are now in the newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, thelmagazine.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Juicy Buns at Ollie’s
The Dish on Susur Lee and Shang
A night out with Gordana Rashovich, Flora Goforth in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
André De Shields Set for World Premiere of Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James at Indiana Rep, 3/22-4/10
Photos: A.B. Cruz III and Lillian Kimura Receive 2011 AALDEF Justice in Action Awards
Photos of Lion Dancers in Los Angeles Chinatown
Photos: Chinese New Year Festival at The Huntington in San Marino
Andy Warhol, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Lia Chang in Art & Healing Exhibit at Snug Harbor on SI
My Empire State Building at Dusk on view in HHC’s “Art and Healing-Healthy for the Holidays” Art Exhibit
STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 2 as 4 disc DVD Box Set
<Lunch at The Modern, A Stroll Through The Conservatory Garden in Central Park
Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias, Tulips and Narcissus at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Spring in New York is a Veritable Color Riot
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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