Dear PoPville – Anyone Know the Status of this Year’s DC Caribbean festival?

Photo by PoPville flickr user rjs1322

Dear PoPville,

Does anyone know the status of the DC Caribbean festival? Have they received permits from the city? Have they paid their police overtime bill from several years ago (well over $100 K)? It comes through our neighborhood and impacts the community, I’m sure folks would like to know its status.

I have received incomplete and contradictory information. I have an email chain (from the office of an at-large councilmember) from the police department saying the organizers have NOT applied for their permit (called an HSEMA). However, the organizers of the event insist that they have applied with the city. I contacted both Juan and Sedrik in the Mayor’s outreach office to seek clarity; Juan told me to talk to my local community organizers and Sedrik has not returned my email. No one has answered the police overtime question. A friendly ANC Commissioner was also going to try to investigate.

The dates for the event are about three months away and the organizers appear to be planning for a 2012 event.

After last year’s event, the organizers promised the Georgia Ave Task Force that they would organize well in advance of the festival (the city gave them the permit a few weeks before the 2011 event). We were told Howard was working on an economic impact study of the event, which was to be released by Thanksgiving of last year. There has been no economic impact study and permitting status is unclear.

Thanks to Popville in advance!

86 Comment

  • The Howard study…would be interesting. I wonder who dropped the ball on that.

  • The city absolutely should not grant a permit until the organizers have paid their debt to the city and organized better security measures.

  • was this the one that got a bunch of people killed last time?

    • I’m not sure if anyone was killed, but you could definitely hear the gunshots from the projects/nice lofts at 5th and N St. Can’t we all just listen to steel drums and not exchange lead?

      • There was an unrelated event with around 6 ppl wounded and 2 killed in NE DC below Howard University… Get facts dude.

        • Yes. Completely unrelated. Had nothing to do with the fact a street festival provides a crowd in which to blend after the shooting, chaos from a multitude of people fleeing in terror after hearing the shots, innocent bystanders in the crowd, and an inability of the cops and medical personnel to effectively respond. Yep. Completely unrelated. Nothing to see here.

          • + for sure…

            Love how people think that – Nothing to see here.

          • The parade route was on Georgia avenue, and ends by Banneker Field. The incident occurred in Ledroit park. If you know the area the festival had no impact between Ledroit park and Howard University Hospital. With your reasoning, St. Patrick’s day bar crawls should be shut down too, because there’s a lot more drinking and drunk driving killing ppl than on Carribean Carnival Days. Play fair.

          • Anonymous, in order to “play fair” you might want to provide so
            proof for your assertion. You’re stretching to deny the obvious correlation between the lack of security at the festival and some of the violence that broke out.

        • gotryit

          Actually, a person was shot in NW DC right off of the parade route.

          We can argue about just how related it was.

        • Is that a fact? The fact that the incident just happened to coincide with the date of the festival is, I’m sure, a coincidence. How many similar gang incidents occurred on non-festival days?

        • Cathy Lanier said it was unrelated; however, “[a]uthorities said Terry Jiminez returned to the District and stalked his rivals at the festival near Howard University. Now another innocent bystander is dead.”

          • gotryit

            Gang shootings do happen in the area, but usually not when there are large crowds (witnesses?) out. They should have been scared to bring that crap out in public, but the atmosphere after the parade (open air drug dealing anyone?) was just fine for it.

          • There was also this massive brawl, which was clearly linked to the Caribbean festival, as the videomaker himself acknowledges at 3:45 by yelling “Caribbean Festival 2011!” Caribbean Festival 2012? No thank you.

        • Ya, completely unrelated. Are you nuts? Did you see the videos, it was a joke. Too many intoxicated people, clashing ‘hoods’, lack of police presence and no organization.

    • They still haven’t paid me for the huge dent in my hood that a 300lb lady left when she did a “photo shoot” on my car… I was just parked next to my house near to GA Ave… I’d hate to think of what would happen if I had an even more expensive car. I hate to say it because I love a party as much as anyone else, but I don’t think this specific tradition should be carried on.

    • gotryit

      It wasn’t during the festival, but people were hanging around for quite a while after.

      There was a shootout and one innocent bystander was killed – two others injured.

  • A big thank you for the OP’s question and pro-activeness re: this matter.

    These are questions that need to be asked and addressed by the DC government ASAP. I would LOVE to see this picked up by local news, too (not to diminish POP’s presence in the mainstream media, of course 😉 ).

  • gotryit

    I’d like to see the parade happen again, but not like last year. The parade organizers need to step up their game and show us how they’ll make it better (better security, including for the after-festivities).

    Until then, I’d like to see our city representatives make something happen. There’s time now, but not if they try to sneak it by us a few weeks before the scheduled date.

    Thanks for bringing it up now.

  • It will go something like this which is reflective of past “festivals”.

    They will go from pleading to complaining when the City decides not to authorize them because they owe the city for many past festivals and have no manner or money with which to operate this years, nor have they been able to show that they can deal with the crime, trash, complaints etc.

    Mayor, timid of looking bad to a whole bunch of his constituents (which really isn’t true as many of the folks come from maryland) will step in at the last minute and authorize the MPD to foot the bill.

    Festival will take place. There will be tons of fights, bottle throwings, a few store front windows broken, perhaps even a few shootings or stabbings as there have been in years past.

    Cars will be vandalized. There will be countless complaints of drunks pissing/vomiting/crapping/dropping trash on peoples private property within a 3 block radius of the parade route. The music will be so ridiculously loud that you can clearly hear it as far over as the Columbia Heights Metro.

    Afterward, there will be indignation on the part of the city that “surprise surprise”, the whole thing was yet again a scalding “hot mess”.

    Rinse and repeat for future years.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I’ve asked Council Members Jim Graham and Muriel Bowser and Mayor Vincent Gray to respond via @PoPville on twitter. I’ll update if/when they reply.

  • Just too much criminal activity surrounding this every year. It’s too bad a heritage celebration has been undermined, but sometimes it’s best to remove the cause and thus, its effects.

  • I’m absolutely shocked that the Caribbean festival would be slow in taking care of something! As someone who lives a block from Georgia, our elected and appointed officials should not grant them a permit until they have paid off the debts they owe the city, they have a security plan that will bring the level of violence down to at most what one would see at any other event in DC, and they pay for the trash cleanup necessary after the event.

  • The real frightening part is I bet the OP and PoP are more on the ball than the festival’s organizers. If last year is any indication, they’re waiting until the last minute so they can complain the city is trying to keep them down and squash the festival. That way St. Jim comes in to save the day by letting them skirt permits and by providing cops they won’t pay for.

  • This year’s forecast calls for stabby with a chance of pain.

    Thank you. I’ll be here all week.

  • This festival has just grown out of control and too big for it’s own “britches.”

    Time to close’em down or move’em down town like all the other big festivals.

  • Maybe beat them to it by organizing a trash pick-up/neighborhood clean-up on the day of and on the very same route as the parade.
    What do you say PoP?

  • IF they pay their debt and have more security, move it out of the neighborhood and to a more controlled environment like RFK or the Mall. It absolutely should not be allowed to be held in this neighborhood given the violence, trash, and disruption it causes.

    The organizers have failed to bring any benefit (in fact financially drained resources) to the surrounding area of the festival. The planning is comical at best

  • Please post who should be contacted regarding this so it isn’t slipped by at the last minute. thanks

  • Well, considering the marathon last weekend always has their police fees waived, I don’t think its fair to block this fest because of that.

    I love the fest and hope it rolls this year. It’s always a blast. Would be dope if they could add a Juvy type event.

    Homicides are down significantly this year, also.

    • Ummm this was the first year that Rock N’ Roll organized the marathon.
      I’d be upset if they didn’t pay (since its a for profit) but for charity runs I’m okay with not paying for the police presence.

      Additionally – a big race like the Rock N’ Roll brings in runners from around the country (and world) who stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and contribute a decent amount to the local tax base – so there is that to consider.

      • i would also say the same thing for folks that come to the caribbean fest (it has a huge people and financial draw). Maybe it’s not the right kind of money for some people though. But i love the festival, and think it is part of the spirit of dc and would hope that we could support more neighborhood celebrations like other cities and not just limit it to the national mall area (which is so disconnected to dc)

        • +1 Great post.

        • darn straight its the wrong kind of crowd…these people get drunk, fight, pee and litter everywh. And I dont care if the violance that occurs isnt a direct result of the festival…it happens every year because the sheer number of people gatherd guarantees there will be conflicts or at least provide a nice chaotic schene in which to hide after. The parade isnt contributing to the local economy except the liquor stores and food carts. Who do you think cleans up the sh*tty mess afterwards?? Certainly not the organizers nor the participants.Its the people who live in the neighborhoods that have to deal with the trash and urine smell after. you cant even compare this to the marathon. I hate this festival and it should not be allowed to continue.

      • I’m not that knowledgeable about it, but was going off the comments on this thread:

    • Good, then have it on H Street.

      • We are busy every weekend. And I do support, against certain neighbors, the opening of African American clubs in my n’hood.

        Georgia Avenue is a lil quiet on the other hand. Up and coming, certainly, and I like the neighborhood, but not much going on.

        I swear some of ya’ll are going to make the city a VERY boring place to live.

        I would be fine with it moving to H Street. You and I both know that won’t happen, though.

        • would love more “boring” up here!

        • IMO the cons outweigh the pros for the surrounding area with this unorganized festival.

          ‘Boring’ has nothing to do with it, one day of thousands of people drinking in the street, pissing on my porch, littering everywhere and violence does not equal long-term progress on the entertainment tip.

          Finally, once again, it has nothing to do with African American, black, or Caribbean but everything to do with the above mentioned crap that goes along with it. Nice try on the baiting

  • Let them have it this year, with a plan for better crowd control.

    If there is a repeat of last year, shut this mess down for good. I know personally I won’t go anywhere near Georgia Ave when this is taking place.

  • i love the parade/festival and hope it happens again. it’s a highlight of the summer in DC for me. hopefully things will work out.

  • Should only allow this to happen down if they pay their bill and only around the Mall from now on, as a penalty to the organizers and attending hooligans for being such a$$ clowns. Let em’ try the same BS in the face of the Feds and at the risk of affecting the ever-prized visiting tourists – that should cool some jets and keep things better in check.

  • The parade is awesome!! I love getting woken up by those drums! It means summer has arrived — and I am about to have a really fun day checking out the dancers and floats. It’s been a big part of my 10 summers in DC.

    Also, on another note, I’ve been meaning to share my outrage with PoPville about the open street festival last Saturday the 17th — hordes of drunken youth running all over the neighborhood, all the way down to Chinatown, flashing gang colors (green!) and getting violent in and around bars all over the city for a good 12 hours. Those particular drunk people had a hard time sharing the SIDEWALK. Others might have had similar experiences?

    • That’s a tortured comparison. I biked all over the city on Saturday afternoon and while I saw lots of people walking around wearing green, I didn’t hear about any shootings or gang fights at Irish bars. Please elaborate on all of the violence you witnessed.

      • How do we know the stabbing in Brookland Sat night was not related to St. Patty’s day?

        • Careful. That logical leap would mean that every crime in DC that occurs on the day of the festival would be linked to the Caribbean Festival. And do you have any proof that the Brookland stabbing was related to an Irish holiday? Or merely a dry run for your beloved street festival?

          • I was merely illustrating the cognitive dissonance by posters earlier in the thread.

            As I stated above, last year homicides hit a 40 plus year low. They are trending lower this year. The chief of police stated the homicide was not related to the festival, and called the fest peaceful for the last few years. But apparently, some of ya’ll know more than the chief of police now. Lol!

            Yes, I do love the fest. I regularly attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans, have “played in a band” (Harts!) twice in Trinidad and Tobago Carnival and enjoy DC Carnival very much. Sue me 🙂

          • You were not exposing any cognitive dissonance. Rather, you were making false comparisons – huge difference. I also don’t see what the long-term murder trend has to do with anything here. It’s a red herring. Instead of trotting out these super-weak arguments, you should be drumming up support among the supporters of the festival to force the city to either provide enough security and trash cleanup for the event, or to demand that the organizers do so. If last year’s events keep repeating, the festival will get nixed.

    • In fact, I think Shamrock Fest is this weekend. Let’s test your implied hypothesis. If there are shootings and gang fights, I’ll stand corrected. If not, then this canard can be disposed of.

  • I can hear the parade from my house, and it’s exciting to watch from a shady spot for a while, but too darn hot for me to stay out there all day…and no way am I taking the kids down into that melee at Banneker Field. Honestly I feel that squelching the festival altogether smacks of racism, but +1 on the need for much much better crowd control, police presence, how about metal detectors at the field entrances?
    I don’t mind paying taxes for police at cultural events like this. It’s not the dancers fault there are so many numbnuts that show up gunning for their rivals.
    P.S. if you think a crew could be out to get you, that might be a good time to head somewhere else for the weekend.

    • gotryit

      The guy who was killed last year didn’t have a crew out to get him – he just got hit in the crossfire.

      I’d also be careful about crying racism. I agree with you that I’d like to see the festival go on, but with better security, crowd control, etc. I think that the difference between us and the “squelch the festival” people is the difference between hoping for a better festival and looking at the reality of not much being likely to change.

      • I think race is absolutely a huge part of it.

        Over on H, people throw fits about African American clubs opening up, stating everyone will get stabbed etc. People brush off stabbings at Sticky Rice or the Martini Lounge (and its counterpart) but when something happens outside of Twelve its the end of the world and the racists come out.

  • I love the Caribbean festival! It’s such a vital and vibrant part of DC culture and has a long legacy in this city – just as the area’s West Indian community has strong roots here, namely in neighborhood around Georgia Ave. I have family friends who have been involved in this parade for years. Trust, it’s not a last-minute event. It takes year-round planning.

    • gotryit

      Is it just the community impact part that is last minute planning?

      Did I miss the community meeting where they told us what they were working on and asked for our concerns?

  • Thanks OP for bringing this up.

    It would be completely irresponsible, and frankly, a little suspicious, for the city to allow the festival to happen again this year, after all the violence and vandalism that occurred last year, especially if they still haven’t paid their debt and without some heavy improvements to security measures, porta-potty availability, trash and clean-up management, alcohol vendors permitting and control… The basics of any street festival. I live 2 blocks away from Georgia Ave and I am worried about the safety of my family and my home during the festival.

    Given the propensity of the participants for violence, that festival does not belong in a residential neighborhood, and I agree it should be moved to the mall.

    They need to pay their debt, and propose and demonstrably implement, some convincing security measures to protect the neighborhood and the participants. I can see heads rolling if anything goes wrong this year after last year’s dangerous failure and nothing has been done.

    • gotryit

      I was with you until you said “Given the propensity of the participants for violence…”

      Are you referring to the dancers / marchers? The problem really is just about a very small group of people (gangs / crews) who are otherwise violent and dangerous, not about the parade participants in general.

      • touché, gotryit. I should have written “Given the propensity of some participants for violence and vandalism…”

      • Exactly! Blaming a parade that draws tens of thousands of people for the actions of less than a dozen is absurd. I suppose we should shut down DC United games and tailgating if a few people get out of line?

        Also if you’re going to argue for shutting down a cultural festival, seems to me you should say whether it’s your culture represented. I believe most of the no-festival crowd on this blog aren’t Caribbean or African origin, which raises a red flag for me.

        • Andrew,
          Do you think a neighbor’s cultural heritage will impact whether they mind getting their kid killed by a stray bullet or, more likely, getting a couple of piles of human poop and a few dozen discarded beer cans in their front yard, or as 10:58 Anonymous mentioned, hundreds of dollars of damages to their car?

          • Lol! Oh no, the car!? How ridiculous.

            By the way there were several stabbings over the weekend, how do we know they were not related to the St. Patty’s day festivities or the marathon? Same logic ya’ll are using.

          • “By the way there were several stabbings over the weekend, how do we know they were not related to the St. Patty’s day festivities or the marathon?”

            This is ridiculous. St. Patrick’s Day is not an organized event, so the comparison doesn’t even work; if you mean the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, then your argument at least makes sense but is wrong. As for the marathon, um, no, there were no stabbings related to the marathon; I would be willing to wager that never happens ever.

        • “I suppose we should shut down DC United games and tailgating if a few people get out of line?”

          If people got shot while tailgating outside a DCU match, you can bet there would be a required increase in security paid by DCU.

          If people openly walked around smoking weed outside a DCU match, you can bet there would be a required increase in security paid by DCU.

          I have been to the parade many times. Security is getting worse. After the High Heel races on Halloween on 17th street, the street is re-opened in 30 minutes (that is: all revelers forced onto the sidewalks, street sweeper vehicles run through, and all roadblocks removed), and life returns to normal. Within 30 minutes.

          How about comparing that to the Caribbean festival?

  • I saw the parade for the first time last year and at first thought it was fun but after ten minutes the real vulgarity of it came through. I can’t believe how much weed and simulated sex was going on. Seriously, one guy was walking while holding a woman on him as she was grinding on him. Its mainly just a shit-show of disorganized random “floats” which are nothing more than trucks with guys blasting ear drum popping music and smoking weed while 300lbs women in bikinis dirty dance on the street. I can’t believe anyone would take their kids to this and call it “culture”.

    • I lived in the West Indies for a few years, and your description of the DC version of carnival tells me that it mirrors the West Indian version quite well.

    • Exactly re: West Indies. And, if you had researched it, you would know this is the evolution of an event that started hundreds of years ago. So yes, actually, it does have a lot of meaning.

      And how is your description any different than, say, what people do on Halloween? Girls dress provocatively, people drink too much, obnoxious behavior, frequent violence etc. Why are you not advocating for the end of that?

      • St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween – What holidays won’t you stretch to compare to this festival? Is it just like Christmas too? You’re embarrassing yourself.

  • I have lived here since 1999 and have yet to “get” this festival. It seems to mostly to be a parade and…what else? A bunch of people standing in the street blocking traffic, getting drunk and throwing trash on the ground? That’s fun? Why can’t it be moved to the mall since that’s where most of our cultural activities take place and there’s both space and a structure in place to handle it?

    Also, get off my lawn!

    • P.S. I am of African heritage and I still don’t get this parade. Maybe I’m just black-ish. *shrug*


      “French planters, indenturered laborers, and their slaves emigrated to Trinidad during the French Revolution (1789) … Carnival had arrived with the French, indentured laborers and the slaves, who could not take part in Carnival, formed their own, parallel celebration called Canboulay.”

      “The Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and is highly regarded as “The Greatest Show on Earth.””

      And yes, a lot of Trinis (and other nearby people) take part in this parade.

      • Oh, I get what Carnival is about, what I *don’t* get is what THIS is about because it’s a parade and not much else seems to happen.

  • Looks like an event to stay far away from. They have one in Montreal too, at least they used to. The bartender at the hotel could not say enough bad things about it, pretty much the same things that are said here.

  • Great news! The official website of the DC Caribbean Carnival announces its dates for June 23 & 24th 2012.

    I enjoy this parade a lot. It reminds me of the Caribbean festivals I have attended in St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago. It’s a moment of happiness, dancing, sane friendship and well, loud music. Attend with no expectations.

    People with prejudices or ignorance of African cultures should inform themselves first before judging this parade. Dancing sensually is not as gross as the ugly scenes seeing every weekend in any Georgetown or Adams Morgan bars, marihuana is not as bad as alcohol, being half naked is a beautiful thing. Oh, and the fights in 2011 were caused by DC-born and raised badass kids, not from Caribbean people attending the parade.

    Some of you need to stop being so damn racists. DC will be always the chocolate city for a good reason.

    • The original post has a link to Caribbean website.

      The question is on if the city has given the organizers permits; that question remains unanswered.

    • I agree, doing things in public, in the street, in broad daylight is 100% equivalent to what is done at night, behind closed doors, in a private establishment. I also stay away from Martin’s and the Tombs due to all the shootings and gang warfare at those two establishments.

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