America's Largest Hispanic Street Party Draws Thousands In Miami
April 23, 2020
MIAMI, FL— The streets of Miami sizzled over the weekend with America’s largest Hispanic street party as the aroma of croquetas, pork sandwiches and plantains wafted through the air while hip-shaking rhythms filled a 20-block stretch of Little Havana.
Patch brings you highlights of the 2019 Calle Ocho Music Festival in a special photo gallery. The free event drew tens of thousands of attendees, who danced and ate their way through one of the best loved and largest cultural events in the Magic City.
“I’ve been coming to Calle Ocho ever since I was a kid with my family,” said Giancarlo Novo, a volunteer with the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, which puts on the massive event to benefit the community every year.
It was Novo’s third year as a volunteer to honor his best friend’s late father who was a former two-time club president.
“This is the ultimate Hispanic music festival in all of America,” Novo told Patch. “I’m half Cuban. I’m half Costa Rican. I wanted to give back to the community. This is part of my culture, part of my blood. I love Cuban music. I love the Hispanic culture.”
This year’s event was headlined by 5-time Latin Grammy winner — and the first Colombian King of Miami’s Carnival — Fonseca, who is known for hits like “Te Mando Flores”, “Hace Tiempo”, ” Enrédame”, “Arroyito” and “Eres Mi Sueño.”
Ivis Guerra, who was Miss Carnaval Miami 1996, helped set up Crowns of Love, made up of other former Miss Carnavals to mentor young girls in Little Havana.
“The best memory of being queen is always coming back and helping and giving back to the community,” she said.
Over the years, Calle Ocho has featured some of the biggest names in Latin music, including Pitbull, Niki Jam and Maluma.
Mau y Ricky opened for Fonseca in a show of support for the Venezuelan community. They were joined by Peruvian singer, dancer and model Leslie Shaw as well as Camilo who performed the hit song “Desconocidos.”
For Latin foodies, this year’s festival featured a Cuban sandwich “smackdown” and a croqueta-eating competition that included Joey Chestnut of Nathan’s fame.
“This is our first time” attending the festival, observed Alexandra, a native of France who now lives in South Beach and enjoys salsa dancing. “I come to Calle Ocho fairly often to dance salsa. All of the senior Cubans that I usually dance salsa with said ‘you need to come.’ Great food, some good concerts.”
Her friend, Marianne, who was visiting from France, enjoyed an arepa with cheese and other Latin foods. She hopes to return to Little Havana on a day that is less crowded.
“I was here to feel the Cuban music,” she told Patch.