A couple of years ago I was riding my bike along the route of the West Indian parade, and I was struck by the (okay, relative) tepidness of the event.
Granted, the music was loud and the beat was jumping. But there was something about the presence of so many police officers on the floats, on each and every one of the floats, that seemed out of character for the parade, as it was known in its beginning years.
This all came back to me yesterday, in the morning, before the parade started, as I was walking along Flatbush Ave. and saw a young lady whose purple painted face and clothing gave away the Juve (Jyoo-Vay) celebration of the night before.
I asked her if she and her buddies were going to the parade, and she said didn't bother with the parade anymore, that she had her fun time on Juve eve and she was going home to bed.
She said she couldn't stand the parade since Giuliani began to pacify it, a decade or so back, limiting the hours and putting many scores of police officers on the floats and along the routes.
Many Caribbean Brooklynites feel the way she does, she said, but then she conceded that the number of those coming to the parade has been growing. The increases have been among non-Brooklynites and non-New Yorkers, she maintained.
All this said, there seems to be very little doubt that the day-light hours of parade day have been quieter and (we think also) less violent than was the case in the distant past. I have friends and relatives with tales of very unpleasant encounters during the parade years ago.
Great fodder here for debate -- another time.