(Miami, Florida) – When we think of “Calle Ocho” during the month of March, the first thing that comes to mind is the well-awaited for block party that draws in thousands of Miami residents to this very street. Why? – You ask? Because it’s the biggest festival of the year offering an array of live entertainment shows, and a delicious blend of central and south American food. Being the largest Hispanic festival in the nation, Calle Ocho marks the end of the Carnaval Miami season. But little is known about its origins, and what lies in the two weeks leading up to this Latin street fiesta.
In the late 70’s, the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana started an event to bring the Cuban community and culture together, and Carnaval Miami was born. In the following years, it began to evolve into the melting pot of Latino cultures we see today. This year, Miami’s Calle Ocho Festival broke the Guinness world record with a 250 foot long banner displaying 422 flags from around the globe. The carnaval has also showcased many highly-acclaimed, international artists on its main stage, including Celia Cruz, Jose Feliciano, Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino, Thalia, Olga Tañon, Elvis Crespo, Oscar de Leon, Albita, La India, Rey Ruiz, Pitbull and many more.
The carnaval begins in February with Miss Carnaval Miami, and continues on with various cultural, art, and sporting events in the two weeks that follow. This year, the schedule of events included the Crowning of the new Miss Carnaval Miami Queen, Melissa Ramirez, Carnaval Soccer 5v5, Carnaval Miami Run, Art in the Park, Carnaval on the Mile, Carnaval Miami Cooking Contest, Carnaval Miami Domino Tournament, Carnaval Miami Golf Classic and, the grand finale, Calle Ocho Festival.
Pictures of the city’s largest annual party below – Calle Ocho 2012! ■
– Nathalia Y. Bogani – “The Etiquette Girl”
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