Neighborhoods Day will have a nice cool blast of Caribbean flavor this year.
On August 6 and 7 people of Caribbean decent who call metro Detroit home will share their unique ways with the rest of the citizens with the Detroit Caribbean Cultural Festival at New Center Park.
After 26 years of independent celebration of the Caribbean culture, they will join the ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day this year to connect deeper with the city and spread their sense of cultural pride. The music, food, drink and recreation of the culture will reach even more people.
“Come and taste the Caribbean,” says Richard Parris, president of the Detroit Caribbean Cultural Festival.
Parris came to Detroit from the Caribbean 27 years ago and got involved in the festival early on. Over the years he rose to take more and more responsibility its the maintenance and growth. He initially came to the US to go to school. His sister, who already was a resident, urged him to come to Detroit. He did and enrolled at the University of Detroit.
He was taken to a local group, which celebrated those of West Indian decent. There he became involved in the community they had within the city. From there it was not a hard sell for him to get involved in the festival, which began in his second year in Detroit.
“I am stuck in Detroit, and it is a pleasure,” Parris says.
He plays in one of the bands that show up at the festival each year, which was one of the first ways that he became involved in the festival. His band, Universal Expression, will join the following bands at the festival this year.
- Roots Vibration
- Scott Ian
The music fuses African and early European cultures.
Introducing thousands of people to the music he grew up with and watching them enjoying it and even trying to do the traditional dances, has been the part of the festival Parris has found most rewarding.
Besides great music those attending the festival can also enjoy Caribbean drinks and food, not the least of which is jerked chicken. Drinks include guava, homemade ginger beer, and homemade lemonade.
The festival used to be along Woodward, and at its height attracted around 100,000 people. In recent years attendance has waned. Teaming up with Neighborhoods Day should boost attendance.
To check it out at New Center Park you have to make it there between noon and 11 p.m. on Saturday August 6 or on Sunday between noon and 10 p.m. The park is located on West Grand Boulevard near Second.
Caribbean festivals began in the Caribbean region in late 1700s as a pre-lent celebration of freedom. Like the music, the festivals are a fusion of African and European cultures and they give us a taste of the exotic culture of our neighbors of West Indian decent.
Many different cultures call Detroit home, many have festivals and all of them help make Detroit what it is. The cultural web of Detroit can only be pulled tighter now that the Detroit Caribbean Cultural Festival is part of Neighborhoods Day.
Registration for the 10th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day will close soon. Groups and individuals can register at www.arisedetroit.org or phone 313-921-1955.
The Kresge Foundation is one of ARISE Detroit!’s major funders.