- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Thousands of people lined Georgia Avenue in Northwest yesterday for the annual D.C. Caribbean Carnival Parade, a colorful celebration of West Indian culture and an all-out party in the streets.

“I’ve come for the last few years, and it’s better every time,” said Christopher Richardson, 26, from New York, who is of Haitian descent. “It feels good to come out and represent my heritage.”

A mix of bands, dance troupes, politicians and mayoral hopefuls rolled through, tossing strands of beads and exhorting spectators to dance.

The parade stretched from its starting point at Missouri Avenue to Barry Place, where vendors sold food, T-shirts and flags.

“Everything here reminds me of home — the food, the music, the dancing,” said Evelyn Martin, who waved a miniature flag of her native country, Barbados. “I’ll definitely be coming back next year.”

Spectators and vendors staked out spots along the parade route hours before it began. Once it got under way, it resembled a moving sound-clash, with a new party beginning with each passing float.

Young girls danced through the street in bejeweled costumes, feathered headdresses and body paint. Music pulsated from the tractor-trailer-drawn floats, which were makeshift sound systems with flatbeds full of giant speakers.

The party continued long into the night, as a reggae concert was scheduled to begin at RFK Stadium at 11 p.m.

Overcast skies at times threatened to dampen the festivities but they eventually gave way to an unrelenting sun. Some escaped the muggy weather by taking refuge under umbrellas and shaded areas, while others lined up for the hordes of vendors selling bottled water.

“It’s warm but not as hot as it’s been some other years,” said Wallace Johnson, 59, of Northwest, as he leaned against a wall and watched the parade pass. “Like last year, it felt like Jamaica, it was so hot.”

The event began modestly in 1993 with nine bands. It has grown considerably since then, with more than 20 floats participating in the parade yesterday.

Local dignitaries who took part included Ward 4 council member and mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 1 council member Jim Graham and Ward 3 council member Kathy Patterson.

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