Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Night in East Flatbush: Trying to Get into Caribbean Night at Wingate Field

Although we'd read online that on the advice of doctors, an ill Sean Paul had pulled out of his appearance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series tonight, we figured that would make Wingate Field easier to get into. Caribbean Night was supposed to go on with the replacement headliner, Machel Montato.

But along with hundreds of other people, we wandered around the area surrounding Wingate Field, unable to get in.

We got there around 7:45 p.m., walking up Winthrop Street from the subway on Nostrand Avenue. The usual hawkers of bottled drinks, food, CDs, etc., lined the nearby street, and we were prepared for the usual entrance to Wingate Field, but police officers had gated off the street and told us we had to enter a block north.

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Thinking that was strange, a group of us went up New York Avenue to Hawthorne Street, but cops had blocked that off too. Go one more block north to gain entrance to the field, they told us.

Okay, we thought, Wingate Field goes four blocks north of Winthrop, but the bleachers are on the west side and we didn't recall an entrance there. Perhaps we were remembering it wrong. So we walked another block to Fenimore Street, where a group of us were told we would have to go to East New York Avenue to get in.

That seemed very odd. East New York Avenue was another four blocks north, and two blocks north of Wingate Field's north side at Rutland Road.

We just followed everyone else who looked as if they were going to the concert. At each street, the road was blocked off, cops were checking the IDs of people who said they lived on the block and letting them in if they could prove it, and other cops were waving us north.

But at Maple Street, we saw the cops open the gate a block south of East New York Avenue, and a crowd of us went in. As we walked across, we discovered a mid-block little courtyard, a street really, only totally paved, called Miami Court, where neat little houses faced each other, and then two more, Tampa Court and Palm Court.

The indispensible blog Forgotten NY's feature "Lanes of Mid-Brooklyn" says:
These are three tiny pedestrian alleys that were constructed as part of a building project a few decades ago. They are lined with attached two-story units between Maple and Midwood Streets east of New York Avenue . . .

Anyway, we ended up on the corner of Midwood Street and Brooklyn Avenue, and it was still blocked off. People were getting annoyed, and there were a lot of them. When people asked, they were told Wingate Field was already full and we wouldn't be allowed in until people left.

We asked a cop frankly if he thought it would be just easier for us to go home. "Yeah," he said, so we walked back west, assuming we'd go to Nostrand and back down four blocks to the Winthrop Street station.

But at New York Avenue we saw crowds coming north, and they looked as if they were going to the concert. Most everyone we saw knew that Sean Paul wasn't performing and still wanted to go in for Caribbean Night. At every street - Rutland Road, Fenimore, Hawthorne - cops were still directing people north.

At the corner of Winthrop Street and New York Avenue, we spoke to three young women who'd been in Wingate Field. "It's not full," they told us. "It's like half empty, way less crowded than usual."

So we wondered what was up. We'd seen maybe 300, maybe 400 or more people trying to get in. Had they canceled the concert? It wasn't clear. So we just got on the subway - and yes, an officer was giving a young man a summons as we entered - and returned to Williamsburg.

It was all a blur, but we're grateful for the extra exercise and a chance to see more of the neighborhood, we guess. We would like to know what the deal was tonight at Wingate Field. Calling Marty Markowitz. . .

1 comment:

Prospect Heights Girl said...

Listen I just glad you got out of there okay. When you talk about adding Caribbean people to a concert like this you talkin, half of Brooklyn being out on the streets at the same time in this small concentrated area. They are likely to be making a whole lot of noise and sometimes trouble to put it politely. Judging the curiosity you had and the research you did on the area, Miami and Tampa courts etc and the fact that you were traveling back to Williamsburg I assume you where white. I am black american and telling you to just be safe when traveling to these areas but I do appreciate your chutzpa and ability to be comfortable.