By Onz Chery
A newly created organization, United Haitian Alliance, will organize a Haitian Flag Day Car Drive Thru in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday to not only commemorate Haiti’s flag but also pay tribute to the scores of Haitians who died from the novel coronavirus.
The drive-by parade will start on the corner of Empire Boulevard and Nostrand Avenue at 10:00 a.m. and is scheduled to end at noon in Canarsie, organizers say.
“Even though COVID-19 is here we’re still raising that flag,” United Haitian Alliance board member Kenny Altidor said. “It [the drive-by] will make a statement. It will make America know that we’re here. Not only that we pay tribute to all the COVID-19 victims, but at the same time, we also want to make a statement to let the community know that we’re here.”
Altidor felt downhearted because all of the Haitian Flag Day’s main outdoor activities were cancelled or done virtually because of the virus.
“It was so sad,” he said. “They did zoom meetings and stuff but, still, you could see that there was something missing. Us Haitians, we love to celebrate, especially on our Flag Day.”
The drive-by will fill a bit of the void the coronavirus brought to Haitian Flag Day. “It will add a little taste, a little happiness, a little relief,” Altidor said.
To add to the lack of May 18 festivities, many Haitians also grieved on their Flag Day because of the loved ones they lost. United Haitian Alliance’s founder Erick St. Louis is overwhelmed by the amount of people he knew who died from the coronavirus.
“Every call—I’m even afraid of answering the phone because I’m afraid I will get a bad news,” St. Louis said. “My uncle, my cousin, my friend’s two sisters, his niece, my good friends. If I start telling you how many people I know that went out it will take maybe an hour.”
It was a necessity to pay homage to them.
“In Brooklyn in general, we lost doctors, nurses and all that. I was like ‘Whoa!’,” Altidor added. “Due to the fact that, us Haitians we’re proud of our flags, I didn’t want that day to pass by. I thought this would be a great gesture, a great idea, to put ourselves together and do something on the next level.”
Before the drive-by, United Haitian Alliance plans to have a 30-minute talk. They will ensure that everyone will wear facemasks. The organization will bring facemasks and hand-sanitizers to people who show up to the event unprotected.
UHA was founded in April with the mission to “put all Haitians and friends of Haiti under one umbrella to bring Haiti where it was supposed to be.”
Despite the drive-by, UHA also plans to provide food, shelter, education, and health to street-kids in Haiti in the near future. They also aspire to offer health services to Haitians in the Dominican Republic. And in New York, they hope to prevent Haitians from losing their homes because of the pandemic and help those who will with shelters.