The 2024 Phagwah Parade was Incredible!

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Urvashie Kissoon thrills the crowd with a fabulous classical item. (Dr Dhanpaul Narine's photo)

By Dr Dhanpaul Narine

Brilliant sunshine, beautiful floats, and a beaming Bunty combined to produce an incredible Phagwah Parade. The 2024 edition, held on Sunday April 7, saw thousands, under a cloudless sky, and warm weather, walk down Liberty Avenue and into Phil Rizzuto (Smokey Oval Park) for a wonderful cultural program. The Phagwah Parade Committee worked late into the hours to finalize the arrangements, and on the day, it came out to perfection. The Parade saw a mixture of the traditional and a number of new additions.

The invocation dance by Manju Chan, at the starting point, captured the essence of the occasion. It was followed by an address delivered by the principal of Richmond Hill High School, Tarek Alamarie. He was introduced by this writer; the principal pointed out that his school was situated in the heart of the Indo-Caribbean community and he was proud of its graduation rate of over eighty percent. The Assistant Principal Mr. Kevin Kunjbehari congratulated his school’s Robotics team for winning the State competition and singled out Mr. Tony Kistoo, the Robotics teacher, and his class, for their hard work. Both Kunjbehari and Kistoo are Guyanese members of the staff.

Hanso Brijmohan spreads the love on Liberty Avenue, in Little Guyana! (Dr Dhanpaul Narine’s photo)

Other newcomers were Attorney-General Leticia James who was happy to celebrate with the community. Members of the Guyana Queens College Association were also in attendance. They were represented by Jonathan Subrian, Vice President, Dr. Karen Cole, Secretary, Shanette Rossan, Assistant Secretary, committee member Raleigh Bruce, and Vishnu Mahadeo was also in attendance. Curtis Sliwa from the Guardian Angels was welcomed by many, and he reported positively on the parade the following day on his radio show on 770 am. There was also a presentation made to the NYPD for their outstanding service.

The 2024 Phagwah Parade saw a total of 24 beautifully decorated floats making their way down Liberty Avenue and into Smokey Park. The music from the floats was captivating and reflected the significance of the occasion. Then there were the banners that spoke to a variety of issues. They ranged from medical and wellness to the importance of chanting and spirituality. The most eye-catching of the banners was from the ‘Phagwah Social Justice Collective’ that called for respect for women, to believe survivors, and to protect black and brown LGBTQ asylum seekers. Mohamed Q. Amin and his Coalition had one of the biggest groups on Liberty Avenue.

The floats turned into the park with onlookers packed on both sides of Liberty Avenue to catch a glimpse of the proceedings. The NYPD marching band led the parade followed by members of the Corrections Department and local organizations. One of the new floats in this year’s parade was “Six Stars Auto” from Uncle Ron Singh in Liberty Avenue. This gentleman is known for his many contributions to charitable causes, and it was most pleasing to have him at the parade. The young ladies from Trivedi Entertainment were a delight to behold on Liberty Avenue. The talented young ladies were Haley V. Persaud, Alycia Seepersad, Venita Dhanraj, Shaila Somnarain, and Korina Ramharrack. They danced their way into the hearts of the onlookers.

The program in Smokey Oval Park was a delight for the purists. The favorites were in full display. Urvashie Kissoon thrilled all with her opening classical dance item and her white outfit was most attractive in the sunshine.

The massive crowd at the 2024 Phagwah Parade. (Photo courtesy of Romeo Hitlall)

Attorney General Leticia James was impressed with the crowd and remarked that it was great to see Indo-Caribbean culture alive. She advised the crowd to get registered to vote as voting will bring about changes for the better. Queens Borough President, Donovan Richards, congratulated the organizers and said that the parade ‘reflects the diversity of Queens, and that is what America is all about.’

This paved the way for the performances from the mandirs that were up to a high standard. Apart from the dances, the singing was captivating, and when we thought that was enough, two performances left an indelible mark. The first was from Bunty Singh who arrived from Guyana the night before the parade. He threw aside ‘jet lag’ to show why he is called a one-man band. Bunty sang and played the keyboard for over half of an hour, much to the delight of the crowd. It was then time for a favorite to take over.

Elected officials and Phagwah Parade Committee members. (Photo courtesy of Romeo Hitlall)

Terry Gajraj combined wit and music to bring the crowd to its feet. But this year there was a difference. Adrian Dutchin joined the entertainment and sang his popular song ‘I am a Guyanese’ that sent the audience singing and dancing, and waving flags. He teamed up with Terry Gajraj and they went into the crowd where they gave a superlative performance.
The program came to an end under bright sunshine, and with hundreds still present. The crowd was well-behaved and thanks are extended to the various precincts of the NYPD for their selfless service, and to the many organizations that worked with the Phagwah Parade Committee over the months.

The year 2025 promises to be even better.

Participants at the 2024 Phagwah Parade. (Photo courtesy of Romeo Hitlall)
One of the floats at the 2024 Phagwah Parade. (Photo courtesy of Romeo Hitlall)

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The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.