Haitian Mas Camp to march down Eastern Parkway
The West Indian American Day Parade will welcome a new participant this year. Banboche Mas, will be the first Haitian Mas Camp, short for Masquerade Camp, to march down Eastern Parkway.
"I was shocked to hear that we didn't have one; 'cause Haiti is always represented in these parades. But I never really took notice that its own section didn't exist because throughout the parade the whole parade is reppin' Haiti and the flags are everywhere,” Hip Hop legend Kangol Kid said.
Each Mas Camp features people dressed head to toe in feathers, beads, and sparkles.
They dance to music from their home country.
While many Caribbean countries are known for their carnivals, Haiti is not one of them.
"There is a masquerade in Haiti but it's not as big, it's not as popular, it's not as televised so it's not seen as a place to go as fun like Trinidad or Jamaica,” Banboche Mas Partner Charles Andre Vieux suggested.
Organizers say they decided to use this opportunity to change people’s perception of the Haitian community.
"Growing up here and hearing what people are saying about Haitians, that is not factual, but because you’re Haitian and because of the pride that you have, you are like, ‘nah, I'm going to show you different.’ And you can't take everybody to Haiti so we figured we'll bring Haiti to New York," Vieux added.
The group will compete against more than a dozen groups in the small band category for a cash prize and bragging rights.
"I'm hoping that people recognize that we belong. That is such an important thing, you know, we're part of this. Stop trying to exclude us. We're not going to let it happen," Kangol Kid said.