Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Birth of the Calle Ocho Festival :: Little Havana Miami Latin Culture
The Birth of the Calle Ocho Festival In the heart of Miami, Florida, the Calle Ocho Festival is an event open to people of all ethnic backgrounds and age groups. This event dates back to the late seventies. The festival originated in 1977. It was organized by two men, Leslie PantÃ n Jr. and Willy Bermello, who wanted to start a project with the Miami Herald to bring the community closer together. They decided on a festival while scribbling on the back of a place mat at lunch one day at the Red Coach Inn during the summer of 1977. PantÃ n and Bermello's goal was to have a street party that would display the Latin-American lifestyle in the city of Miami for non-Spanish speakers. Today, this festival has grown into the largest Hispanic festival held in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people attend the event for the dancing, eating, and getting to know everyone and everything that is part of Little Havana. The Calle Ocho festival was originally named the Open House Eight, because the two organizers wanted the festival to be an open welcome to southwest Eighth Street. With no credit, PantÃ n and Bermello ran into a slight problem with their idea. They needed money to start up their plan for the festival. Relying solely on the aid of friends for finance, they managed to raise $37,000 to put on a fifteen block street party. However, PantÃ n and Bermello still needed coverage for the new festival. Thanks to knocking on many doors, making presentations to advertisers, and receiving television coverage, they received all the publicity they needed. People from all over South Florida came to attend the Calle Ocho festival. The first festival, held in 1978, was a major success. Music, food, dancing, and smiling faces are some of the many attractions you may find at this festival. Performers such as Willy Chirino, Oscar de Leon, El Gran Combo, Celia Cruz, The Barrio Boys, and Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, among others, have performed during the past twenty years. Salsa, merengue, cumbia, and guaguancÃ ³ dancers fill the streets of Little Havana every year.