The citizens of Miami Beach have seen their fair share of crazy sights and Saturday night it may have topped itself with a parade of accordions.
Accordion Invasion, sponsored by Next@19th in partnership The Betsy South Beach and Art Center / South Florida, invited guests to follow an accordion band along in a parade navigated its way through Miami Beach.
The event began its journey at the Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive, where many gathered in the crowded lobby to listen to the music. Here the band played many patriotic songs like “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” to the delight of many hotel guests, who joined them in singing to the music. After the reception, the band made its way outside to begin the parade. The parade went along the beachwalk playing many traditional Jewish accordion songs like Hava Nagila as it headed towards Lincoln Road, where many in its path whipped out their cellphones to capture the curious sight.
While the parade of fans was fairly large to begin with, it began to collect more people the further it went along. At one point, the parade reached so far long that many in the back could not even hear the lively music coming from the accordions. One of the highlights of the parade was when the the band began to play the Chicken Dance, which prompted many in the parade as well as passersby and people outside dining on Lincoln Road to begin dancing to the song.
When the parade arrived at the upstairs gallery at ArtCenter/South Florida, the room was bursting at the seams with newly minted fans. The band continued its repertoire of American, Jewish and Hispanic songs that we were all familiar with. Two particular favorites of the audience were their renditions of "Guantanamera" and “Cielito lindo”. The band also included several songs that they wrote themselves, a pleasant surprise.
Despite playing for over two hours and having schlepped their large instruments along Lincoln Road in the blistering heat, the band never wavered, playing enthusiastically throughout the evening. The wild applause at the end of the event is a testament to the commitment of the players: Shlomo Geva, David Gordon, Dr. Avi Uncyk, Maricarmen Vazquez, Walter Martinez, Eddie Schriber and Chad Bernstein.