2006-09-14 / Caribbean Corner

Caribbean Youths' Roots Reinforced At Prospect Park Event

By Melissa Prince

The Bartingua Arts dance group is one of many acts that performed at last weekend's youth festival.          Melissa PrinceThe Bartingua Arts dance group is one of many acts that performed at last weekend's youth festival. Melissa Prince The theme of the second annual Caribbean Youth Fest, "Heritage is Time-less," was portrayed in vivid detail as scores of people came together to celebrate Caribbean culture last Satur-day in the Nethermead section of Pros-pect Park.

Festival director Maxine Hamilton-Alexander said the free event originated with "a desire to pay homage to Caribbean traditions and create a front of solidarity for different island-ers."

"Here in America, children get lost in American culture," Alexander said. "I know how important it is to understand where you're coming from and to point you in the right direction to where you're going."

Alexander said Caribbean people have diverse roots in many European and Spanish countries. She tried to mend those separations and celebrate the underlying commonality of culture that all divisions share.

"I wanted to bring people together," she said. "We need to start telling the stories that got lost in city life. I want today's youth to be and feel Caribbean."

Alexander said the timing was to coincide with the new school year because she wanted children to feel pride when returning to school.

Those in attendance witnessed an array of festivities and talent. Performers included singers, marching bands, dan-cers and rappers, as well as displays of colorful clothing and ethnic dress. Each performance was a reinforcement of tribute and adherence to Ca-ribbean way of life.

Jerbean Gilkes, choreographer and talent researcher, said a year-long effort went into ensuring a successful program. Despite many hectic months of planning, Gilkes said he is onboard for next year's festivity.

"It's something that I love," he said. "Anything for the kids or celebrating culture, I'm involved."

Several organizations supported the event, including the Prospect Park Youth Council and the Brooklyn Public Lib-rary.

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