Carlos Lezama, who founded the West Indian Carnival Parade in Brooklyn back in the 1960s, died yesterday at Kings County Hospital at 83. Lezama was born in Trinidad and had participated in the West Indian Carnival in Harlem when he immigrated to the United States. Then Lezama, along with friend Rufus Goring, brought the parade to Brooklyn. The parade has evolved from a five block affair to being the city's biggest parade. The vibrant gathering, held on the first Monday of September, attracts about 2 million spectators and participants in colorful garb - see these photographs of last year's parade from ultraclay!.
Lezama had also worked for the MTA as a machinist. Mayor Ed Koch told the AP, "[Lezama] was someone who had a dream and saw it fulfilled. This was on his mind more than trains." And Lezama's daughter, Yolanda Lezama-Clark (who is also the president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association), said, "Throughout our lives, my siblings, as well as my mother, have been privileged to share my father with the millions who are part of the carnival family. I am grateful that he has left an impressive legacy of which we all as Caribbean people can be proud."
A viewing and funeral for Lezama will take place this Friday. More information at the WIADCA obituary for Lezama.