A million Latinos street party…Trump didn’t R.S.V.P.
Little Havana is a neighbourhood in Miami, Florida, home to many Cuban exiles, as well as many immigrants from Central and South America, Little Havana is named after Havana, the capital and largest city in Cuba.
Little Havana is noted as a centre of social, cultural, and political activity with festivals like the Calle Ocho Festival, Viernes Culturales, the Three Kings Parade and others. Many of have been televised to millions of people every year on different continents.
Little Havana is also known for its landmarks, including Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street/Tamiami Trail), its Latino Walk of Fame (for artists and Latin personalities such as Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, and Gloria Estefan), the Cuban Memorial Boulevard, Plaza de la Cubanidad, Domino Park, the Tower Theater, Jose Marti Park, the Firestone/Walgreens Building, St. John Bosco Catholic Church, Municipio de Santiago de Cuba and others.
After the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro, many Cubans escaped their island coming to Florida and making Little Havana the new cultural and political capital of Cuban Americans, and the neighbourhood the centre of the Cuban exile community.
Calle Ocho festival
Little Havana hosts its annual Calle Ocho street festival, one of the largest in the world, with over one million visitors attending. It is a free street festival with a Caribbean carnival feel sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana.
Calle Ocho is where different ethnic communities wear colors or flags representing pride in their heritage. Flags from Colombia to Nicaragua to Puerto Rico to Costa Rica and even Ireland flood the streets. Foods from different countries are usually present for purchase, and popular Latin music like reggaeton, salsa, bachata and merengue can be heard throughout the festival.
Birth of the festival
In 1977 tensions among Miami’s different ethnic groups were running high. Eight Cuban-Americans, mostly from the Kiwanis of Little Havana, were trying to come up with ideas to address the situation. They considered a bicycle race on SW Eighth Street (Calle Ocho). It was turned down because the organizers feared that it would pit one ethnic group against another. Willy Bermello came up with the idea of doing something similar to the block parties and street festivals of Philadelphia. Calle Ocho was born.
The festival takes place between 27th Ave and 4th Ave along Southwest 8th Street. Over 30 stages and hundreds of street vendors participate in the live music street festival now in its 4th decade. Calle Ocho earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records when 119,986 people formed the world’s longest conga line on March 13, 1988.
In 2010, the Florida legislature identified the Calle Ocho-Open House 8 festival as the official state festival.
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