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Could the Caribbean Festival Return to DC This Year?

by Prince Of Petworth — May 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm 86 Comments

Caribbean Festival 2007

The Post’s Tim Craig tweeted this interesting tidbit yesterday:

“DC Council approves transfer of $107,000 to try to bring the D.C. Caribbean Festival back to D.C. instead of being held in Baltimore.”

If it does return to DC do you think it should remain on Georgia Ave or move downtown like Fiesta DC recently did?

Back in May 2012 we learned the Annual Caribbean Carnival/Festival would be located in Baltimore. The festival has not been without controversy.

You can read previous coverage about the festival here.

  • We’re back on that again. This should be interesting..

  • Marie

    I hope it comes back! I’ve always loved the Caribbean Festival!

  • As someone who’s been here for many years of it occurring on GA Ave I’d welcome it back if trash collection/cleanup and security went more smoothly.

    • I agree – I’d love to see it come back with safety and cleanup. Unfortunately, the organizer will only pay lip service to this. From talking to him, I don’t think he actually gives a crap about us.

    • JB

      I agree. If the organizers and the city address these issues, I’m all for it!

  • Anonymous

    What does “…transfer of $107,000 to try to bring…” mean? Ask nicely?

    • Yeah, I’m also curious what that actually means.

    • The festival is supposed to pay for police, cleanup, etc. from the city. But then sometimes the city will dip into a fund to offset some of those costs. So we pay for it in the end.

  • Oh dear god no.

    the festival and MPD have clearly demonstrated over the last 8 years (that I’ve been within a couple of blocks of GA Ave) that they are not interested in minimizing illegal activity (alcohol use, MJ use, littering, etc).

    I realize that I live in a city, but the 12 hour party that is the Caribbean Festival are way WAY over the top.

  • Ron

    Why would we want to invite violence and crime back into our city?

  • makes me wonder if mardi gras will ever get gentrified out of new orleans.

    • Anonymous

      You apparently don’t realize that the original Mardi Gras Krewes were high society clubs.

      • i did not. how does that compare to how it plays out today?

        • They are still social clubs. The super krewes may not be what one would call high society, but it’s still a club that one pays to join.

        • Anonymous

          100 +/- years ago, one great grandfather was Rex, another Comus. Back then, it was much more about balls and debutantes. My grandfather maintained his 12th Night Revelers membership until the day he died in case I ever decided to come out. It was still a kind of drunken meat market I suppose, but not so obvious. Young bossoms on metaphorical rather than actual display.

        • BitterElitist

          I have heard a man called n- from one of the Endymion throwers.

          Rex is racist as hell and most (decent) people don’t go.

          • Anonymous

            Please clarify if you are intentionally or accidentally implying that I am racist and not decent.

    • Two non-comparable events. Mardi Gras is much more than Bourbon St. and the French Quarter.

      • true. sorry my my trolly post.

  • Anon

    I would like to know if there are Caribbean people who really feel a sense of pride about this event. I have seen it, and it really isn’t about culture at all. Just loud music and scant clothing. More of a spectacle than anything else. I would equate it to gay pride, but that’s just a bunch of churches and politicians now.

    • For one data point, my neighbor from Trinidad does take pride in it. And he makes a mean jerk chicken.

    • Anonymous

      Oh no you did ‘ent!. : )

      Talk about apples and oranges lol, Caribbean Festival and Gay Pride.

    • Marie

      I’m of Caribbean descent and I’ve been going with my parents (who moved to DC in the 70s) since I can remember. It’s important to us, even if a lot of people here don’t personally enjoy it.

    • Not here

      What is culture to you? Music.. dance… food.. that is what the festival is about. If your culture has none of that… I am sorry for you.

      • Anon

        I will admit to being dumb to Caribbean culture other than food. But as a first time attendee a couple of years ago (maybe three) I was surprised by the type of music and dancing. It didn’t seem very tied to any culture, and there was almost no difference between the different participants .

    • gilla

      My wife is Jamaican and finds it silly, since a lot of it is just random guys on the back of trucks playing go-go which has little to do with Caribbean culture.

      • Anonymous

        Both go-go and Caribbean music have strong African roots. They are distant cousins.

        • Mark

          Thank you Capt. Obvious.

          • Anonymous

            Umm you do know my reply was for gilla who did not find it obvious, but thanks for playing!

      • Anonymous

        Carnival is not a Jamaican cultural tradition which may explain why your wife finds it silly. Carnival is celebrated in Trinidad and the islands of Eastern Caribbean. Yes, there are parts of the Festival that are not “family friendly” but look beyond that to the craftsmanship involved in making the bigger masquerade costumes and the sweetness of live steelband music.
        from a Jamaican married to a Trinidadian.

  • I have lived in DC, just off GA Ave in Park View and Petworth, for just under two years–so I have yet to see the Caribbean Festival! I hope it comes back and goes well, it sounds like a great day and a fun neighborhood party that has some challenges to overcome.

    • Quincy dude

      If you enjoy having your property urinated on, you’re in luck! Also, if you’re a fan of chicken bones and trash on your sidewalk and street, the possibility of a brawl, and if you play your cards right, maybe a stabbing or shooting.

      Also, super loud music and lots of simulated sex.

  • jcm

    I live half a block from Georgia, and I’d love to see it come back. We always had a great time there.

    • AngryParakeet

      I live a half block from Georgia and have always NOT enjoyed it. The promoters owed the city over 100K so it looks like their non-payment is being forgiven.

  • Loving her makeup and body paint!

  • Anonymous

    Question: Why was it always held on Georgia Avenue, in the first place? Was that area originally home to many Caribbean immigrants?

    • Idaho Ave

      It still is home to many Caribbean immigrants. I live near the Petworth/Brightwood park area and many businesses and residents are jamaican or come from other Caribbean countries.

    • Anonymous

      Is this a serious question? Have you ever spent any time in the vicinity of Georgia Avenue??

      • Anonymous

        Obviously not as much as you. And yes, it was a serious question. Calm down.

  • Identified

    Should the festival come back to DC?
    Sure, if they can afford it.

    Should it be on GA Ave or downtown?
    Downtown. It is too large for a neighborhood festival.

    Should the DC govt be giving this group 107K to assist them?

    Hell goddamn no. They haven’t paid their bills from the previous festivals. If they cannot pay for their festival, they cannot have a festival.

    • Anonymous


    • DF

      Yes in regards to moving it downtown. Couple years ago we tried to make it across Georgia from CH and have to trek way south to do it. Obviously a simple inconvenience but why block a major artery of the city for a huge chunk of a Saturday when every other parade blocks Penn/Constitution and doesn’t bother anyone?

  • Wait. Did the festival organizers OWE a bunch of cash to the district? Did they ever even pay it back?

    • Identified

      Yes, the owe DC money for past festivals (clean-up and policing).

      No, they have not fully paid their debt, so yes this organizer still owes DC money.

      • And that’s why the answer has to be “No.” If the organizers can pay their old bills and produce the money for this year, then have it. But since that’s unlikely, the festival should stay outside DC.

        • jcm

          The trouble is it’s very difficult for parades to be self-sustaining. They require lots of police, and can’t charge admission by their very nature. That’s why some other parades have their security and cleaning fees waived, too. If you believe that events like this have some community benefit, then some community contribution is reasonable.

          • I agree with you. But if the city puts up x dollars and demands the organizers put up y dollars, and the organizers renege on paying y, why should the city pay both x and y? I’m sure the organizers take a generous cut to pay themselves and their responsibility to the city is forgotten. If responsible organizers can be found, then by all means, have the festival.

          • jcm

            I think the way you describe it is how it should work, but that’s not how it has worked in the past (and present). The way it works now is that the city says the organizers have to pay for everything, MPD send the organizers a bill, the organizers apply for a waiver, and the city (usually – but not always) grants it.

            The process should be much more transparent and predictable, and then the parades should be left to sink or swim within that process.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome news! Please bring it back!

  • If only we could be reassured that this would be safe and would be paid for by organizers, it would be awesome! If the festival could be had on those terms, boo to anyone who would say no.

  • bb

    Bring it back, but only without a subsidy.

  • Ohhhhh Please no.

    If they are to come back to DC then they should go play where the other big festivals go.

    Not to mention I would think that was a big selling point and bonus for the festival – in the shawdow of the Capitol.

    Downtown .

  • Alan

    I like festivals – it sounds fun. The city should probably have some kind of clear cultural events programming plan if its going to fund things rather than one off transfers which make it seem political. That said organizers cant charge admission but there should be some way they can directly recoup some of the costs for holding it from say local businesses or groups participating. Overall, it’s a relatively small cost so it seems worth funding.

    • It doesn’t just -seem- political… that’s exactly what it is.

    • JB

      One thing I’m wondering is how do some of the other big street festivals (e.g. H street, Adams Morgan Day, etc.) pay for themselves? Do local businesses chip in? Do they have more vendors that they can charge? Do they do some fundraising? I’m trying to figure out why the carribean fest being consistently in the red.

      • Identified

        Neither of those festivals have parades, so totally different “festivals”.

        Capital Pride could be a comparable festival as it has a parade and the festival, and has also had financial difficulties in the past (WWC-related – in the mid 2000’s the city waived 30K or so for the clean-up/police fees for Pride).

        Of course Pride has the parade on Saturday and the festival on Sunday (and I believe this was a demand (or strongly worded request) from DC).

        Donations, Sponsors and various Fees (exhibitors, food vendors, parade participants) all pay for the Pride Festival/Parade.

        • JB

          Interesting. Thanks for the explanation! Would it be more economically viable to have a parade/festival hybrid, since maybe that way, you could attract more vendors? Did the city give a reason for being so opposed to having both the festival and the parade on the same day?

          • Identified

            It was about street closures/police needed for it.

            When the parade and festival were all on Sunday, as the parade passed your area, all the people in that area joined in behind the parade to walk down to Freedom Plaza/PA Ave where it was held at the time. This created a large street closure problem as the parade “ended” around P St/15th St, but in reality continued all the way from South Dupont/Logan all the way downtown – it was too much area to cover.

            It caused a small stir when the festival/parade split – esp. because none of the jewish groups could participate on Saturday evening (stagin meant the groups had to be present before sundown and that being the holy day, didn’t fly well).

            Interesting facts from jcm below.

      • jcm

        According to an Examiner story from 2011, the top 5 organizations receiving cash for police from the community events fund in 2010:
        $176,000 — Caribbean Day parade
        $28,000 — Capital Pride festival
        $24,000 — Adams Morgan Day Festival
        $20,000 — Bike for Your Heart
        $19,000 — St. Patrick’s Day Parade

        The top 5 organizations whose police bills were waived from 2008-2010:
        $485,000 — 2009/2010 SunTust National Marathon
        $58,000 — 2009/2010 Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
        $29,000 — 2008/2010 Capital Criterium
        $25,000 — 2008/2010 Oyster Adams 5k
        $18,000 — 2009/2010 Capital Cluster 10k

        • JB

          Yowza! Why is the Caribbean Fest total so much higher??

  • Marcus Aurelus

    If the festival is in fact coming back to DC, it won’t be this year – at least according to the organizers’ website, which indicates that this year’s festival is being held in Maryland on June 29-30 and July 13-14 (you will want to turn the volume down before opening the link):


    I guess it’s possible to shift the location with 2 months to go but that would be a risky proposition given the problems that have happened when the festival was held here with more advance planning.

  • Quincy dude

    please no.

    I can’t conceive of why the city would support this. I can think of a lot better uses for 107 grand, including lighting it on fire.

  • Anonymous

    Bring it back, make it shorter, implement a decibel limit, and require a deposit for cleanup and the heavy police presence that will be required after the 4 people got shot in 2011. And how about if you don’t decorate your loud truck you can’t participate?

  • Petworth Dude

    No one says anything whe there is the st pattys day festival, so please resepect other people and how the express thier culture. Most of the people on the blog sound so close minded, with huge assumptions. Why did you even move to a city?? Go back to some place where everyone else is like you… Live and let llive 🙂

    • Anon X

      I think st patrick day festivals are pretty dumb. but out of curiosity where in dc is the saint patrick day festival that closes down multiple blocks for multiple hours?

      to be fair, I find the random disease walks/runs pretty uninspiring too… but the carribean festival definitely has its problems because of their inability to pay their debts.

    • saf

      I have lived here since before this festival began. I am one block off the parade route.

      I am ok with the idea. I am not ok with the implementation. I am allowed to leave my house, but not come back. I have to clean up a huge mess in my yard and my alley afterward. The noise shakes my entire house. The pot smoke blankets the neighborhood. People piss in my alley, and have come into my yard for inappropriate purposes.

      And no, I’m not real keen on Paddy’s Day stuff either. And yes, I am half Irish.

      Carnival is a good idea. This festival is not well run, and is a problem for the neighborhood.

  • I have been to every one of the DC Carnivals since the beginning. There used to be two festivals on GA: Georgia Ave day and the Caribbean Carnival. They discontinued GA day because of the violence it produced. Now I’ve noticed over the years that Carnival became more and more popular with the non-Caribbean community and that’s cool. With the exception of the 2011 incident when the shooting occurred, Carnival had a reputation of being non-violent and non-incidental. I knew things were going to be difficult for Carnival when the neighborhood demo changed. Where there were no barriers before, now they had them. Police presence was beefed up to the point of officers on horseback. Really? Horseback? These arent riots. It’s a celebration. I knew all these extras was gonna hurt the Carnival. And it did. Folks wanted to point fingers at the shooting, but it wasnt related to Carnival at all. My mom told me that the committee in charge of funding misappropriated funds. Hopefully this was a lesson learned and it wont happen again. I welcome the festival back and now that Rita’s, Brown’s Bakery and C&R restaurant are no more, I expect the businesses that are currently on the ave to take full advantage of the opportunity to welcome the out of towners the fesitval brings with open arms. DC Carnival is a win/win for the Petworth community and I hope it stays on Georgia Ave for good.

    • Oh, I see. The police are what caused the violence. And the changing demographics too. Good point.

      Sure, the shooting wasn’t part of the parade. What about the public drinking, violence, and blatant drug dealing that were part of the all day (and well into the night) celebration that happens with this event. Right, the people who plan the festival wash their hands of anything that happens afterwards. Great.

      • I dont know where you grew up but the violence and drug dealing were on Georgia Ave long before Carnival. Were you here in the 80’s when DC was hit with the massive crack and angel dust epidemic? Carnival is one weekend out of 365 days ok? And as for the public drinking, that occurs with all festivals. Taste of DC, Adams Morgan Day, Gay Pride, etc, etc.

        • The violence and drug dealing is still there (although less now than before). That’s why its a bad idea to plop this festival in the middle of the neighborhood. Move it to the mall. Keep the culture / food / music / dancing, but reduce the likelihood of neighborhood gangs becoming a part of it. I picture it being so much more peaceful there.

          • “I picture it being so much more peaceful there.” BS. It could be on the moon for all you care. You just dont want it on Georgia ave because you’re here.

          • You clearly don’t know me. Thanks for assuming. I’d like to keep it here if it could go off without the kinds of ridiculous problems that we all see during and after the event. I just see that happening better on the mall. What’s wrong with that? Why does it have to be on Georgia Ave?

  • Anon X

    Why the hell is the city paying more money when the organizers still have unpaid debts? unacceptable. the city made an ultimatum and now they’re backing down. they look like pushovers and they’re just going to get rolled over and over again. not particularly good stewards of the public trust of public funds.

  • I’m charging my phone and I will be recording the fights and lewd behavoir. Please bring this back it will be better than the best of Bad Girls Club. Girls barely dressed and guys screaming ingnorant stuff at them for basically coming to a festival in a bikini oh man I can’t wait.

  • Anonymous

    please god no! This is no “festival”–its as people previously stated. Its random guys blasting music, smoking weed and people simulating sex on each other while walking (seriously, thats almost impressive. Some guy holding up a 200 lbs woman as she grinds on him and he walks). the whole thing is a mess and disgrace to true caribbean culture. If CM Boswer supports this, she is losing my vote for mayor. I suggest others email her if you feel the same way.

    • Anonymous

      How would you define ‘true Caribbean culture’ since the Caribbean is not a homogenous unit? I’m sure there are parts of your culture others might consider a “mess and disgrace”. As in everything there is good and bad and there are people who take things to an extreme, however the intolerance on this blog is almost appalling.


  • Otis Gal


  • washingtonian

    Cool, man.

  • Deja

    As a participant in many of DC Caribbean Carnivals, I personally feel that it should be here in DC/Georgia Ave., and it should not be relocated. Per my experience when the carnival was moved downtown it was a not a good idea, many masqueraders had a horrible time and did not want to participate if it was to be held downtown. I’m sure the same will happen, if that is the decision. Nevertheless, I do hope it comes back to DC.

    • It’s harder to over drink and deal downtown.
      Nooooooooo to the “festival”

  • As long as the organizer’s pay the $107,000 or whatever it is to pay the police and trash pick up, I have no problem with it. No pay, no play.

  • Yes bring it back. M st in Georgetown is a good route for the parade.

  • NotAllowed

    If this was a Woodstock event, I wonder if it would be so much resentment…

  • Park View Pru

    What exactly have the organizers done to ensure that it won’t be full of drug dealing, violence, front yards getting pooped on, and enormous expenses to the city? No NO NO.
    The police forgiving the organizers’ debt is not the same as the organizers getting their crap together. Debt forgiveness doesn’t give us any guarantee that the same unacceptable activities wouldn’t go on at another Georgia ave Caribbean festival, or that the organizers would pay in full any new debt they incur.

    Absolutely not.

  • Anonymous

    i would like for the carribean carnival to come back to dc


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