Color. Costumes. Culture. That describes the 2010 Caribbean American Carnival (or festival to some) in Boston. I’ve attended the carnival for many years and it’s always a different experience each time. There was the carnival the previous year when I was finally able to participate in my first J’ouvert celebration. My friend and I sat in my car until the festivities started. Then we walked through a cold and rainy early August morning with several hundred others moving to the beat of steel drums. There was the time several years ago that my friend and I walked from Mattapan to the carnival in Franklin Park and back. We were with her young daughter and laughed and talked along the way. There were all those times that I’ve seen former students in the crowd or participating in the parade. They would be hanging out with their friends or moving along in the parade in their intricately designed costumes. And there were all the parties celebrating the carnival and giving me quite the workout on the dance floor. My recent party at Prince Hall gave me sore feet, ringing ears, and a stiff back, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
The Caribbean American Festival is the culmination of several events held throughout the summer in Boston. In June, we have Juneteenth. It commemorates the end of slavery in America. Hundreds of African Americans descend on Franklin Park by the Shattuck Hospital to cook, reconnect with family and friends, and enjoy the day. Every year I try to make the event and this year I brought my son and hung out with my friend and her family. The kids played. We chatted and took in the sights and sounds of the event.
In July, we have the Puerto Rican Festival and in August, prior to the carnival, we have the Dominican Festival. Cultural pride abounds in Boston. People come out to have fun, eat, and party. At all of the festivals, the music is intense, passionate, and loud. I love it! Summer in Boston is exciting, diverse, and entertaining. There’s always something to do, see, and somewhere to go.
As we enter September, the cultural season winds down. The focus is on back to school, back to work, and the holidays ahead. But the music of the summer will remain with us. The beats will resound within us. The passion will warm us for the cold days ahead. It will carry us through until summer returns again.