It was "Caribbean Day" in the District yesterday and an estimated 2,000 area residents braved the heat to come down to the Ellipse and jump to the beat of the Caribbean Summer Festival in the Park.

It was the Seventh year for the annual fete sponsored by Caribbean Festivals Inc., a nonprofit cultural group. The event was intended" to give all the area cultures a chance to mix," said Festivals president Carlton Johnson.

The tent-covered grandstands were filled with men, women, and children, picnicking in shorts and tee shirts while hundreds danced before them to the music of a dozen bands -- taking the heat in stride, and step.

"The music is so hot, I don't mind the heat," said Dough McNeish, 27, of Swann Street NW, as he bobbed his head to the sounds of a band called Image.

Vincent Lewis of Emerson Streeet NW stepped to the left and right like a prizefighter in the 12th round, sweat rolling down his broad shirtless chest. a"I figured it would be a good thing to see people come together, people being natural together," he said.

As the music played, the crowds could feast on curry chicken with roti, a kind of flat bread, beef patties, rice and peas.

The Benford family came from Reston to hear the music. They've never been to the Caribbean but they agreed that the festival was the next best thing to being there.

"I like the music," said Horace Michael Benford. "They (the band that was playing) sound just like Earth, Wind and Fire." His five-month-old son Horace Michael Jr. lay back in his stroller and waved his hands and tapped his feet in agreement.

The festival was carried live by radio stations WHUR and WPFW.