How many Calle Ochos has Power 96 radio personality Lucy Lopez been to?
“So many,” the Hialeah native says. “The first one I went to with my cousins, Manny, Danny and Eli. We parked so far away and walked for so long to get there. But when we finally got there, it’s like, it didn’t matter who you were, you automatically fit in. It didn’t matter what you were wearing, you were fine.”
Lopez has proven herself to be one of Miami’s most authentic voices since she snagged a job at Power 96 in 2001. She landed her spot on air after calling in to defend Hialeah when a pair of DJs started trash talking her home town. “They loved my Hialeah accent, which I didn’t know I had at the time,” says Lopez, who you can catch on Power 96’s Morning Show with JP.
When it comes to Miami’s most infamous street party, the annual throw down that welcomes around one million revelers on Eighth Street between 12th and 27th Avenues, Lopez is not here for your complaining. No one gets to sit on the sidelines for Little Havana’s celebration, says Lopez. Just read on and she will tell you how to master the art of Calle Ocho.
1. Bring your flag!
Calle Ocho is a chance for you to rep your country. Says Lopez, “Don’t be too uppity where you don’t bring your own flag. Bring it! It’s cool! You’ll see people from Jamaica, Trinidad, Colombia. There’s nothing like walking past a bunch of Doral girls with Colombian flags on their backs. It’s like a pack of Sofia Vergaras.”
2. Support local
Thanks to Calle Ocho, Little Havana’s local vendors and residents get to cash in on the incredible inconvenience of having one million people wandering past their front porches. Says Lopez, “Don’t Uber! I would never Uber to Calle Ocho because I am stealing from the little old lady who charges you $20 to park on her lawn.”
Also, Lopez says not to fear the unlicensed vendors that sneak in to sell their wares to the crowds. “If a little old lady wants to sell you a tamal, buy it. I bet you they live a block away from where you are. Take a chance. Eat it! Nothing is going to happen to you.”
3. Take all the photos
Everyone at Calle Ocho is looking to have a good time, explains Lopez. “It’s one of those moments where everybody is cool with you taking a picture of them. Some of the best photos I have are with random people on Calle Ocho.”
4. Stalk some celebs
With the streets jam packed with people, you are likely to run into a celebrity or two. “Check for celebrities and stalk them and find them,” advises Lopez. “They are probably going to take photos with you. Last year I was following a bunch of fashion bloggers and I ran into them. And then we ran into a Snapchat star.”
5. Footwear is important
Obviously you want to be comfortable at Calle Ocho. So don’t hit the street like you are going to the club. “Go in sneakers, but bring your chancletas (sandals) in your bag,” Lopez recommends. “Leave at 6 p.m. You are going to have to get to your car – don’t stay till the very end! – and pass all the catcalling. That’s when you pull out your chancletas.”
Everyone in Miami knows that a chancleta is a great weapon.