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American Literature

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This year, my girlfriend and I ventured into south west Miami to visit the biggest event in South Florida, the Calle Ocho Street Festival. Hundreds of thousands of people come from all over the world every spring to enjoy that largest street party south of the border, which is the Broward - Miami Dade county line. This is a humongous party! In 1988, the festival won a Guinness World Record. At the time, about 120,000 people joined together in the world's longest conga line. That is a lot of people and this year, although there was not attempt to break a world records, South West 8th street, known in the Latin community as "Calle Ocho" was closed for many blocks to pack nearly one million people for the celebration.

The yearly party begins in the early morning and last until sun down. This year, we arrived at about late-morning; still, we had to park more than ten blocks away on one of the side streets. It was interesting to see many neighbors using this opportunity to make some extra cash by opening their front yards for parking. After walking under the Miami heat for about blocks, we arrived at a sea of people through one of the side streets. The crowd was so tightly packed that initially we could not find our way to the main street.

What goes on during the Calle Ocho street festival? Well, the main street is set for walking. The thousands of people pile on it to walk up and down the street; but most of the big crowds are on openings to the side streets. This is where, the music bands setup set their temporary stages and played to their fans for hours. The music is vibrant and the rhythms are pure Latin. This year, in the 35th anniversary of the popular event, there were musical performances by Pitbull, Lefty Perez, Avana, Aimee Nuviola and Roberto Torres; all famous Latin musicians or show men.

As we got closer to these music gatherings, our bodies instinctively began dancing or vibrating to the sensuous rhythms. We finally came to the corner where, JenCarlos Canela, the King of Calle Ocho and one of my girlfriend favorite leading men, was playing. We managed to push and shove our way near the stage and stayed there for over an hour enjoying his hits, like "Someone like You", "Acercate", "Estes done Estes", and others.

While the streets are set for walking, the sidewalks are set for selling all kinds of Latin food. Hundreds of food vendors were ready to meet the demands of festival-goers. These shops catered food from around the world to the hungry and thirsty crowds. The exquisite aroma of freshly cooked corn on the cob, the smoke of barbeque filled the air. Beer, soft drinks, tropical fruit juices, smoothies, and water were offered everywhere to quench the thirst and make the scorching heat tolerable.



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