A "Jump Up" Island experience in downtown Raleigh

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Hundreds of happy people lined Fayetteville Street Saturday outside the Raleigh Eyewitness News Center for the annual CaribMask Caribbean Carnival. (WTVD)

Hundreds of happy people lined Fayetteville Street Saturday outside the Raleigh Eyewitness News Center for the annual CaribMask Caribbean Carnival.

Gyrating dance teams representing many Caribbean nations as well as Triangle cities and towns danced with each other as well as spectators, young and old, who minutes earlier stood on the curb smiling.

All that activity led to a crafts and Caribbean food experience in the next block.

"Oh yes! We've got some beef patties, we've got some jerk chicken, we've got some empanadas, we've got a lot of good stuff goin' on," said Olivia Watler as she prepared those dishes and more, for sale to hungry festival fans. "Corn on the cob, you know, rice and peas."

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Watler's with an organization called Caribbean American Connection in Fayetteville and said the drive from there to Raleigh for the festival was worth the time and effort.

"It's very important because we're a nonprofit organization," she told us, "This is where we make most of our funding to do the things we do in the community."

Many people who filled Raleigh's streets have roots in the Caribbean. Others have fond memories of visits to the islands, and some have no connection to that region at all but came out for the experience.

After the parade ended and the last notes of energetic soca faded away, the soothing sounds of live reggae filled the air over Fayetteville Street.

Many festival fans lingered downtown for several hours, sharing the positive vibes and planning for a return next August.

"Come on down! Enjoy the food, enjoy the culture, enjoy the music," said Watler.

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