There must be a college, university, government agency or elected official who can help quantify the monetary might of the five-day event. It has been more than 10 years since such a study was done for the carnival, which has attracted millions of spectators and marchers annually for decades.
In stark contrast, annual economic impact numbers for the U.S. Open tennis tournament held in Flushing, Queens – one of America’s most lucrative sporting events – are available yearly. It’s estimated that $800 million will be brought into area by this year’s competition.
A study conducted by the Lugano Group, with funding from the Empire State Development Corp., put the total economic impact of the 2003 carnival at about $155,000,000.
Of course, there are the loads of sequins, feathers, satin and other materials bought for thousands of masquerade costumes. And there are the truck rentals, plus all the food, beverages, clothing, jewelry, books, bottled water and supplies purchased by vendors who resell the goods on the parkway.
In Crown Heights and adjacent neighborhoods, grocery stores and restaurants routinely overstock their businesses for the parade and still sell out of beverages and other goods eagerly bought by parade-goers. But the economic effects of the carnival extend far beyond the parade route.
When not attending WIADCA carnival events, thousands of domestic and international visitors partake in city’s typical tourism activities – restaurants, museums, car rentals, nightlife, Broadway shows and so on.
And in addition to the tourist attractions and the carnival, there are possibly hundreds of businesses and special happenings – such as the PURE (Wear Something White) concert and dance party at Maracas Nightclub and Lounge in Richmond Hill Queens, and the sold-out event by Hot 97 radio, “On Da Reggae and Soca Tip” concert held on Governor’s Island – that have grown and flourished by riding the Caribbean Labor Day weekend wave started nearly 50 years ago by the carnival in Brooklyn.
Yes, the carnival is culturally rich, but a new gauge of the event’s economic impact and power is long overdue.