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West Indian Day Parade 2017: Route, time and what to bring

This year’s J’Ouvert festival and West Indian Day Parade and Carnival will happen at daybreak on Labor Day.
west indian day parade, j'ouvert
Celebrants participate in the annual West Indian Day Parade on September 5, 2016, in Brooklyn. More than a million people were expected to line the streets for the Labor Day ritual. Credit: Getty Images

New York City’s West Indian American Day Carnival kicks off at dawn on Monday in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The annual event, which celebrates Caribbean history and culture, includes a two-mile parade route that draws more than a million people.

Here’s what you need to know.

When are J’Ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade?

J’Ouvert, the early morning festival that precedes the event, will begin at 6 a.m. (26 minutes before sunrise) instead of its usual starting time of 4 a.m. The city made the time change as a security precaution. The parade begins on Monday, Sept. 4, at 11 a.m.

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What happens at J’Ouvert?

The name J’Ouvert comes from the French “jour ouvert,” which means daybreak, or morning. The street party features steel drum music and dancing. Revelers often toss paint, talcum powder and oil, creating a visually striking spectacle.

Where is the West Indian Day Parade route?

The parade route falls along Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, extending from Schenectady Avenue to Grand Army Plaza, and traveling down Flatbush Avenue.

What can you bring to the West Indian Day celebrations?

This year, the NYPD will set up dozens of checkpoints along the parade route to search for alcohol and weapons, which are not permitted. Security personnel will reportedly use metal detecting wands as an additional precaution.

Is the West Indian Day Parade safe?

The city has cracked down on violence at the parade. Last year, four people were shot, and two people died. In 2015, a lawyer in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration was killed when he got caught in a shootout between rival gangs. A man was stabbed and killed that night, as well.  The newly ramped-up security measures are a result of last year’s mayhem.

Use the hashtag #WeAreJOuvert on social media, and keep up with news and announcements on the organizer’s Facebook page.