MIAMI (WSVN) - Calle Ocho, the world’s largest Hispanic festival, celebrated its 41st anniversary on Sunday.
Thousands of people gathered for the Latin block party, which kicked off at 10 a.m. along Southwest Eighth Street, from 12th to 27th avenues, in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.
Every year, food, music and different cultures bring large crowds to the event.
“The festival, the people, the food — it’s great,” said reveler Rene Ribera. “All the Latinos come together, and it’s really great. Everybody should come down here once, at least once.”
The event brought flavor and rhythm to 15 blocks of Little Havana. The streets were packed with visitors dancing to a variety of music.
“What brings me here, basically, is the multicultural stuff that’s here and like, all the people that come from different places from the United States,” said Cindy Lopez. “I myself am from Arizona, so we don’t see this, so it’s really nice to see this.”
Calle Ocho is the pinnacle of Carnaval Miami, powered by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana.
The one-day fiesta featured 12 stages, with appearances by popular Latin performers like Willy Chirino, Aymée Nuviola of the telenovela “Celia,” and Chyno Miranda from Chyno and Nacho.
“It was seven years that I haven’t been here, and I have enjoyed today with my family,” said Ivette Perez. “I love it.”
Revelers also came to enjoy booths full of art and souvenirs.
For food lovers, there were endless rows of international food.
Some guests took a shot at the 2018 “El Croquetazo” Championship, a croqueta eating contest. The record to beat was 158 croquetas.
Geoffrey Esper came four croquetas short of breaking the record but still took home the grand prize of $1,750.
“For this particular food, there’s not really any trick,” said Esper. “It goes down easy. You’ve just got to keep swallowing, keep rhythm and just go with it.”
The festivities were all for a great cause. The festival helps raise money for youth development programs in the area.
“Our mission is to keep kids active all year long,” said a Kiwanis Club of Little Havana spokesperson, “not only through our summer camps, our basketball camps, our soccer league, our baseball clinics, so we hope everybody can come down and support us, and if you support us, you support our community, so we really appreciate it.”
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