Philadelphia Caribbean Festival returns to Penn’s Landing to celebrate rhythms and Caribbean culture

People dance at the Caribbean Fest in Philadelphia as others are visible in the background looking on.

People dance at the Caribbean Fest in Philadelphia on August 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

After a virtual celebration in 2021, the Philadelphia Caribbean Festival returned to the streets Sunday, giving community members the opportunity to express and celebrate their heritage.

Despite the pouring rain, Caribbeans united to showcase the impact their communities have on Philadelphia and its surrounding communities. Music could be heard all along the waterfront at Penn’s Landing.

A group of musicians perform onstage in front of a sign that reads, "PECO Multicultural Series."
Musicians perform at the Caribbean Fest in Philadelphia on August 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Among the performers was Philly T&T Rhythm Makers, performing beats inspired by the organizers’ Trinidadian heritage. Dane Osbourne says the rhythm the band plays with comes from within, and the energy from the drums unites the crowds that gather when they perform.

“It’s like a certain vibration, a certain amount of excitement, and then when you look around and you see the crowd just gathering around here, it’s like a high, it’s…a great feeling,” Osbourne said.

A man plays an instrument alongside members of the band.
The Philly T&T Rhythm Makers united crowds with the reverberations of their rhythms during the Philadelphia Caribbean Festival on Aug. 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)
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Orena Rogers waved her Rastafarian flag in the rain along with the beat played by a Trinidadian rhythm group.

She moved from Jamaica to the U.S. at a young age. Rogers says festivals like this allow her to express her roots with the safety of freedom the U.S. has brought her.

A woman waves the Rastafarian flag, with a white tent and crowd of people visible in the background.
Orena Rogers flew her Rastafarian flag to the rhythms of a Trinidadian group during the Philadelphia Caribbean Festival on Aug. 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“Bringing my flag here, I can do it and not be afraid that I’m going to be thrown in jail or taken away,” Rogers said. “That’s what I love about today, and that’s what I love about this country. It’s a free will country.”

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The festival was free to all attendees. Proceeds from raffle tickets, shirts, and souvenirs went towards charitable causes within the Caribbean community, such as college scholarships and aid for victims of the many hurricanes which have torn through the region over the last several years.

A close-up of hands gripping drumstricks, playing an instrument.
Musicians performed at the Caribbean Fest in Philadelphia on August 21, 2022. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The Caribbean population in Philadelphia is made up of nearly 30,000 people, mainly from Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2018, the largest groups of foreign-born Philadelphians are from Asia and the Americas — the latter mostly from Latin America and the Caribbean.

This event was part of the PECO Multicultural Series.

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