BROOKLYN - Dr. Lamuel Stanislaus has seen the 40-year evolution of what is now the West Indian American Day Parade firsthand, and says he can?t believe the event has come so far.

Stanislaus says he has witnessed the celebration evolve from a masquerade ball in Harlem to a Labor Day institution. He says in the days before the parade, people used to dance in the streets to celebrate.

Stanislaus says he introduced his friend Carlos Lezama, a cultural organizer and advocate, to city leaders 40 years ago, which paved the way for one of the largest Caribbean celebrations in the US.

With just over a week before this year?s celebration on Eastern Parkway, Stanislaus says he?s already looking forward to the parade?s future. This year is the first parade without Lezama, who died in January.

He was honored by Mayor Bloomberg at the West Indian celebration kickoff last week.