Calle Ocho 2009

Ana Vargas with her Puertoriccan glasses from Brooklyn NY came just to have fun at the Festival Calle Ocho.

By Aurora Rodriguez

It’s time to lace up those sneakers, slather on some sunscreen and head to Miami’s massive street festival, Calle Ocho, on Sunday, March 15

Festivalgoers can expect the usual day of carefree dancing, music and partying and family activities, but the event hasn’t escaped the impact of the economy and for the first time will be scaled back, from 23 to 16 blocks.

“We had to cut it because we are losing sponsors,” said Sylvia C. Vieta, director of promotions and community relations for Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, which founded and runs the event, the culmination of Carnaval Miami. “But it will still be the same huge number of people.”

And for the first time, the Kiwanis Club is also asking festival attendees for $1 donations to help pay for college scholarships and support local schools with educational and sports programs. “These are year-round projects and in these difficult times, there is even more
demand,” said Vieta.

The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana started Calle Ocho in 1978 to share Cuban culture with locals and it has become a mega showcase for Miami’s diverse Latin American flavor, offering stages featuring entertainment, lots of food, street musicians, plenty of freebies and a KidzZone with clowns, magicians, face painting and games.

If You Go

What: Calle Ocho Festival

Where: Southwest Eighth Street between Fourth and 27th avenues, Miami

When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday March 15th.

Cost: Free (except for food, beverage vendors)

Parking: Expect to pay about $5 to $10 per car (but no guarantees) to park at neighborhood residences. Or take the Metrorail to the Brickell Station, then take the Calle Ocho shuttle to the fair. Check for up-to-date information.

Information: Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, 305-644-8888 or



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