Celebrating Caribbean heritage

The flags of Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda and Jamaica were just a few of the many carried by NYSNA marchers and our union’s float at the West Indian Day Parade.

More than 75 NYSNA nurses from eight hospitals marched alongside the NYSNA float in New York City’s West Indian Day Parade on September 5. Members brought their children, grandchildren and other family members to celebrate Caribbean heritage.

Nancy Hagans, an RN at Maimonides Medical Center and newly-elected NYSNA Director at Large who was born in Haiti, is among a small group of Brooklyn nurses who first got NYSNA involved in the festivities four years ago. “At that time, we had no idea what to expect. We had only two weeks to put together a float and try to assemble a group of marchers. But we did it, and we quickly learned that our message of ‘caring for all New Yorkers’ is one that everyone appreciates. People love nurses!”

“Now we have nurses from all over the islands and beyond who share in the fun of this parade. Our float carries a flag from every single Caribbean nation, and this year, we had nurses of Filipino, Italian, and even Russian heritage dancing down Eastern Parkway,” said Ms. Hagans.

Member participation in the celebration has grown each year, and Ms. Hagans reports that marchers now look forward to gathering each August for a pre-parade decorating party to bedazzle and personalize their costumes.

“NYSNA’s float represents the rich diversity of nursing and the extraordinary diversity of our patients in New York City,” said Ms. Hagans, adding, “And it attracts political dignitaries from throughout New York and the Islands. Nurses have a lot of credibility, and the crowd shows us love and respect.”

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