West Indian American Day Carnival Association ‘Carnival Queen’ Joyce Quamina dies at 85

The Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of the massive annual carnival parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, says it is “deeply saddened” by the passing of one of its loyal former executive members, Trinidadian Joyce Quamina, described as WIADCA’s “Carnival Queen”.

Quamina, a longtime Brooklyn resident, died March 1 — incidentally, the same day as “Carnival Tuesday” in Trinidad and Tobago — at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, Long Island, his only daughter, Michelle Quamina told Caribbean Life. Quamina was 85 years old.

“A true pillar of the community and leader of our Pan Committee, Aunt Joyce led our organization through difficult days where she served in many other areas,” WIADCA said in a statement about Quamina, who, for more than 40 years, was affiliated with the carnival. group, including more than 20 of which she held the position of business manager.

“Her eyes have seen many transitions, her wisdom has guided us through many successes, she has taught us the importance of listening, respecting and honoring those who have gone before us,” WIADCA added, adding that Quamina’s motto was: “‘I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you think I said or what you hear.

“She is now with the ancestors, witnessing a ‘Carnival Tuesday’ paradise, greeting her friends and family and chatting with the master she loved dearly,” WIADCA continued. “Aunt Joyce’s work will continue throughout the Pan Fraternity and our organization.

“Please keep his family and friends in prayer as we mourn a great loss together,” he said.

Another longtime executive member of WIADCA, Trinidadian Angela Sealy, former treasurer and president, told Caribbean Life on Sunday that Quamina also served as director of judges for more than 20 years.

During his tenure, Sealy said Quamina set up the Children’s Carnival and, with Marta Vega, developed the Stay in School concert, now known as Youthfest.

She also started the Jamboree at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, as a fundraiser for Mas’ and Steelband, “where artists volunteered their time,” Sealy said.

In addition, she said, Quamina “negotiated for the Daily News to sponsor the CASYM Steel Orchestra and provided scholarships for young people.”

“As a cultural ambassador, she has represented WIADCA and supported other carnival groups in Toronto, Miami, Boston, New Jersey, Washington and Baltimore,” Sealy said. “She has spent time mentoring youth, community members and inmates on Caribbean culture.

“Over the years, she has continued to support the organization as co-chair of the Steelband Committee, helping groups obtain practice space, and has worked alongside the NYPD (New York Police Department) on issues sensitive cultural and community issues that affect them.” she added.

“Joyce was dedicated to WIADCA and all of its members, and loved sharing her knowledge from the early days,” Sealy continued. “She was highly respected in many circles and will be truly missed.”

Michelle Gibbs, the new president of WIADCA of Guyanese origin, said Quamina, who was born in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad, emigrated to the United States in 1969 and settled in Brooklyn.

“A carnival participant in her native Trinidad, Quamina was a spectator in the original American West Indian parades in Harlem, New York and became an active participant when the parade began in Brooklyn,” she said, stating that Quamina was the founder and organizer. of the Kiddies Carnival, “an event in which children aged from infancy to 16 years old participate in their own mas or masquerade parade”.

“She also contributed to the Westchester County Caribbean Carnival in White Plains, NY,” Gibbs added, revealing that after retiring from WIADCA, Quamina continued as a business consultant for the association.

“Rest in peace, my carnival queen,” she continued.

Michelle Quamina told Caribbean Life that her mother was involved in carnival until her passing.

She said Quamina was manager and later vice-president of the Westchester Carnival; director of the Caribbean Muzik Festival in the Bahamas for 10 years; consultant for Western Union, the money transmitter, at past carnival events; vice-president of the International Carnival of the Caribbean; and one of the founding members of the World Carnival Commission.

Micelle said her mother also gave lectures and held carnival workshops at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York; Hofstra University; Ossing Penitentiary; and Folsom Prison.

For more than 40 years, Michelle said Quamina’s name was synonymous with “Brooklyn’s Labor Day Carnival” and that she was “a dynamo in almost every way in staging the event.” .

Michelle said the late Calos Lezama, the founder and former president of WIADCA, recognized her mother’s organizational skills and expanded her role to include business manager.

“As she said recently, ‘I ended up doing a bit of everything: mas, pan, the kids, the vendors on the parade route, etc. I had my hands full,’ Michelle said.

She said that after nearly 30 years of service, Quamina, in March 2002, tendered her resignation from WIADCA.

“But it wasn’t the last,” Michelle said, revealing that in 2010, “her mum was” tasked with coordinating what is perhaps the toughest event on the carnival calendar, the Steelband Panorama. , which she has managed to do for the past 10 years. years.”

“My focus is and always will be cultural awareness, enrichment, talent development for young children and young adults,” Michelle said, quoting Quamina. “I am, and will be happy, involved in my culture as long as God continues to bless me with life, health and strength.”

Quamina’s funeral will be held Saturday, March 12 at Harmony Funeral Home, 2200 Clarendon Road, Brooklyn.

The viewing will take place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The service will take place from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in Caribbean Life. Click here to see the original story.

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Andrew B. Reiter