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'Carnival Is Freedom:' New Yorkers Celebrate Caribbean Culture By Moving Party Online

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City's Caribbean Carnival may be canceled this year, but the celebration has just begun.

As CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, organizers are moving the party online. Those watching at home will see live DJ sets and throwback performances from carnivals in the past.

"We want to make sure that everyone can still participate at home safely. You'll get virtual road, you'll get selected DJs, premier artists and entertainment from the Caribbean," said Rhea Smith, of the West Indian American Carnival Association.

The sounds of Soca and Reggae music are being shared from an unassuming event space on Utica Avenue, today called The Lab, and smokiness creates the mood.

Computers are making sure the show, that features artists and entertainment from all over the world, stays live.


DJ Spice is among those bringing the sounds of the island into people's homes.

"It's so important because this is all we have as a Caribbean people. We just have to keep it going," he said. "We need Carnival. Carnival is freedom."

This year is a long way from the traditional parade on Eastern Parkway. Still, the flags are out, and some even wore costumes, refusing to let a pandemic dim the vibe.

MORE: 'We're Still Here As A Community': Brooklyn Businesses Keep Traditions On Display While West Indian-American Day Celebrations Go Virtual

Emcee Wassy made sure of it.

"Our entertainment vibes. So you clear the tables, move the desk, put a cooler with some ice in it, get drinks," he said. "Get your flag, your T-shirt, your towel... You can't stay put, because the music will raise your spirit."

That joy, even from home, is needed now more than ever.

Organizers say they plan to add a virtual element to the carnivals moving forward.

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