Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Simone Serwer
The LargeUp crew was out on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in full force on Monday, with several photographers documenting the explosion of color that is the annual West Indian American Day Parade. In the second of three posts, LargeUp editor Jesse Serwer and his wife, Simone, share some of the colorful photos and personalities they collected on the Parkway.
There’s so much color and stimulation on and around Eastern Parkway during the West Indian Parade, it’s hard to train your attention on any one person or even group of people. On the fringes of the parade route, we found some people who really stood out.
We found Raven Toney striking poses for her friends and family at the corner of Washington Avenue and Saint John’s Place, around the corner from the parade terminus and The Islands restaurant. She’s got a striking look and cat-like moves — I’d love to see what a real fashion photographer could do with her. The Amazon-inspired outfit was made for her by her cousin Robbie Colson and Chris White, who design under the name Passion Priints, but, she explained, it actually based on an original design by a Guyanese designer in Flatbush called Gold Teeth Lands.
Omena El, a certified health coach from Downtown Brooklyn, sold us some really good juice. But she caught our attention with these Grace Jones earrings (designed by her friends at a clothing company called Purple Pill Babies), based on the cover art from 1985’s Slave to the Rhythm.
Joel Bichairdo (left), David Nunez (center) and Pedro Borrel (right), from the Dominican Republic by way of Manhattan and New Jersey, had the most elaborate and impressive costumes we saw all day. Although DR shares the Caribbean with the Anglo and Francophone islands that get grouped as the West Indies, you don’t often see any Dominican folks repping at the West Indian Day Parade. Organizacion Carnavalesca de Santiago en New Jersey (Orgcasa NJ), the group that Joel, David and Pedro marched with, actually stepped in to fill the void after finding out that DR had no representation at the Carnival. They brought with them traditional Dominican Carnival masks from their hometown of Santiago, called Los Pepines, flipped with their own individual style. While their masks recall a duck somewhat, Joel explained that they are actually representations of the devil as a pig.