Marchers in feathered headdresses, sequined bustiers, and elaborately engineered wings filled the streets of Roxbury on Saturday, temporarily transforming this multiethnic neighborhood into a celebration of all things Caribbean.
With the sun beaming and the temperature hovering around 70 degrees, it was an ideal day for the annual Caribbean Carnival Parade, and revelers made the most of it, swaying, gyrating, and sometimes giggling their way up Martin Luther King Boulevard toward Blue Hill Avenue and the parade’s end at Franklin Park.
Twelve-year-old Chloe Hardy-Hall confessed she was “a little nervous,” as she prepared for her debut in the parade about two hours before it began. “It’s going to be a lot of people. It’s fun to be dancing, which really shows off your true colors.”
Chloe wore shorts of gold, green, and black that represented her Jamaican heritage and proudly pointed out a glittery temporary tattoo on her stomach. The words “smart • strong • sweet,” lettered in gold, gave her a confidence boost as she prepared, she said.
Chloe’s friend and fellow dancer, Anaiya Jacobs, 12, of Cambridge, said her older cousin convinced her to participate in the parade for a second year in a row.
“It’s big to my family because it shows our bond,” Anaiya said.
No convincing was necessary for Bob Kunst, an avid Carnival enthusiast who said he has traveled to more than 200 festivals across the world, including in London, Toronto, and Trinidad.
Kunst, 77, of Miami Beach, leaned against a stone wall near Malcolm X Park as he donned a turquoise headpiece. He was already wearing a matching breastplate, its jeweled pattern dazzling in the sunshine.
He joked that the “amazing experience” of Carnival keeps him “young and sassy.”
“The fact that it keeps growing is a wonderful sign,” Kunst said of Boston’s parade, which he’d attended seven times before. “Carnival brings everybody together.”
Nearby, 20-year-old Samira Silva tied a black mask around her face as she prepared to march, topping off a vibrant mermaid costume that included a form-fitting green nylon skirt and black leather gloves embellished with dark green feathers.
Silva, of Cape Verde, said her first priority was reveling in the fun of Carnival but acknowledged that her character evoked a mournful history of slavery in Ghana.
“Now, we empower the woman,” she said. “This is all about being proud and black.”
Along the parade route, police were clustered in groups of roughly a half-dozen, spaced about 50 feet apart, offering a grim reminder of events outside the celebration. From late Friday night to early Saturday morning, four men were shot — one fatally — near the route’s end.
The last of those shootings took place just behind the early morning J’ouvert Parade, which kicks off the Caribbean Festival.
Police Commissioner William G. Gross, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins all said Saturday that the violence was not directly connected to the celebration.
“This is from parties before and parties afterward. This has nothing to do with the festival,” Gross told the Globe just before the Carnival Parade kicked off.
Along the parade route, the attention was on the fantastical, vibrant costumes, as towering feathery wings dotted with jewels and sequins reached improbable heights, nearly touching the traffic lights overhead.
At the intersection of Warren Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, a woman swathed in an expansive purple and pink peacock-like costume momentarily toppled over — her accompanying contraption of wheels and wiring turned out to be too heavy to navigate the turn.
Some garb seemed conjured out of dreams — or nightmares, such as the demonic inflatable black lobster that a man pulled with a harness.
Clarence Nurse, 52, of Boston, was dressed as a “Jab Jab” — a slave master from Trinidad — and cracked his devilish whip against the pavement as he maneuvered through the parade route
“It’s freedom of expression for the Caribbean,” Nurse said. “We love to step away from the monotony of everyday. The camaraderie is a way to meet people you haven’t seen in years.”
As the parade wended down Warren Street, neighbors enjoyed the spectacle from the comfort of their porches, while others relaxed in folding lawn chairs.
Five-year-old Mateo Kiranga sat on the front steps of his uncle’s home, snacking on peanuts as he stared wide-eyed at the elaborate costumes flowing past him. Kiranga, of Boston, said he especially loved a “choo-choo train,” which he described as black, gold, and red.
However, the young boy had at least one complaint about the parade: “The music gets too loud,” Kiranga said, dramatically covering his ears.
Alfred Kiranga smiled at his son’s description. A native of Kenya, Kiranga said it was “quite interesting” to catch a glimpse into the exuberant Caribbean traditions on full display Saturday.
“My hope,” he said, “is my son sees how different cultures and people can come together and have a good time — and not be violent.”