carnival parade

By Sam Bojarski

Lionel Balmir has taken part in the revelry of Brooklyn’s Labor Day Carnival celebrations since the 1970s. The dazzle of the costumes, the pulse of the music, and the joy of mingling with old and new friends during the signature parade on Eastern Parkway has drawn Balmir and millions of revelers hungry to experience the pageantry of the Caribbean abroad. 

“I used to be with my brother’s [konpa] band on the Parkway, on the trucks, until late at night,” said Balmir, 64, now a West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) board member.

Carnival-goers celebrate the afternoon in this 2018 photo. Photo by Kerby Jean

“The Haitian community is very, very large in Brooklyn,” Balmir said. “So we’re well represented at the Labor Day parade.” 





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Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America fellow. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and...