BK’s Dominican Parade was a whip-cracking good time!
The last Sunday in August brought a festival of color, feathers, whip wielding lechones (aka the “pork eater” a Dominican carnival character), and music to Graham Avenue from Metropolitan to Broadway. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams cut the ribbon as part of his duties as Grand Marshal and joining him for this launch were: Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, District Representative Tommy Torres, and candidate for Civil Court Judge, Susan Quirk. At 1pm, the 16th Annual Brooklyn Dominican Parade was off and dancing.
Williamsburg Brooklyn’s Dominican celebration began as a block party nearly 30 years ago as a complement to Manhattan’s parade. The celebration of their land of origin, which is affectionately referred to as “Quisqueya la Bella” has grown each subsequent year. According to census figures there are more around to celebrate; as of 2013 it is estimated there are 747,473 Dominicans living in NYC (according to data analysis by CUNY’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies).
Twirling carnival characters via Union Carnavalesca de N.Y. and Grupo de Lechones Los Faraones de Santiago transformed Graham Avenue into the inner workings of a giant kaleidoscope. Among the characters spotted were: a Roba la Gallina (chicken robber) a parasol carrying vision in blue, white, and red with the telltale excessively padded rear and breasts; several Diablo Cojuelos (devil who walks with a limp) multi-horned, sharp toothed beings with very elaborate masks and comic bad attitudes; many Lechones (pork eaters) they wear duck-billed masks with big horns and carry a whip (other of the characters also carried whips); and Pepines who also have duck-billed masks but their horns are wider and look more horseshoe shaped. In addition to the whips, many of the characters brandished vejigas, balloon-like orbs filled with air reportedly used as crowd control weapon if people get too close. Although getting hit with vejigas can hurt, it is said this brings good luck. No hitting with vejigas was observed by this reporter.
Motoring their way along the route was parade royalty of all ages. Earthbound winged women walked and gracefully waved their gossamer pinions. The First Panamanian Drum and Bugle Corps’ precision and tune kept an enjoyable marching tempo and made a pleasant counterpoint to the intermittent sharp cracks of the whip. This band was organized in Brownsville 20 years ago and participates in parades throughout the United States, Canada, and the Republic of Panama.
The fun continued after the parade reached its end. Once reaching Broadway, the festivities traveled to Grand Street Campus High School for the Dominican Festival, which was scheduled to go on until 7pm.