Around the UFT

West Indian Day Parade

Feathers, glitter and UFT book bags at Junior Carnival

Miller Photography UFT President Michael Mulgrew, a grand marshall of Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade, represented the union at its Junior Carnival.
Miller Photography The first day of school was just around the corner for Semi Williams at the Junior Carnival of Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade where she stocked up on free UFT school supplies.
Miller Photography Rosary and Arianna Chietan visit the UFT booth, a mainstay at the carnival.

Sequins shone, small feet danced and competition was fierce on Sept. 3 at Junior Carnival, the children’s detail of the West Indian Day Parade, traditionally held just before the main event.

“Children are judged for the originality and creativity of their floats, costumes and dances,” said Anthony Harmon, the UFT director of parent and community outreach.

The kids’ carnival has been in existence for as long as the parade has been transforming Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway into a Caribbean island, starting in the 1960s.

For children, just as with the adults, being part of the festival can mean months of preparation, practicing and shopping for costumes. Many specialize in pint-sized versions of the outrageously colorful and elaborate costumes that are the signature of the parade.

Although they may not be feathered and glittered, UFT bookbags and T-shirts have become part of the carnival scene over the years. Kids of all ages gather at the union’s booth for giveaways such as school supplies. They spin the UFT wheel of fortune for prizes such as hats, T-shirts and backpacks.

Parents learn about voter registration and helping their high-school age children apply for the UFT’s Albert Shanker scholarships. Both kids and parents learn about Dial-A-Teacher, the union’s homework helpline.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, a grand marshal of this year’s parade, addressed the crowd of thousands.

“We always get a tremendous show of interest in education,” said Harmon, “and it’s heartening to see the community instilling children, some as young as three or four, with pride in their cultural heritage.”

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