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Miami’s Calle Ocho Festival has been canceled over coronavirus fears

The festival, which was scheduled for March 15, attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year to heart of Little Havana.
Thousands fill the streets of SW 8th Street for the Carnival Miami Calle Ocho festival in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. [CARL JUSTE | Miami Herald]

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Miami Herald

Miami elected officials and administrators announced that this year’s Calle Ocho Music Festival, part of Carnaval Miami and sponsored by Kiwanis of Little Havana, will be canceled over the potential spread of coronavirus.

Multiple sources confirmed with the Miami Herald that the decision was finalized early Friday before a news conference where city leaders announced that Ultra Music Festival would be canceled. Fifteen minutes before the 9 a.m. conference, Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes tweeted the Calle Ocho Festival cancellation announcement.

Calle Ocho Festival, which was sceduled for March 15, attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year to heart of Little Havana. Officials close a stretch of Southwest Eighth Street for music performances, food vendors and other activities.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez confirmed the announcement at the news conference, telling reporters the city will be denying organizers of the Calle Ocho Festival the special events permit necessary to stage the event.

Attorney Jorge Fernandez, of the Kiwanis Club of Miami, told reporters that the event will likely not be postponed for later this year because of major logistical challenges. The festival raises money for social programs that the Kiwanis Club sponsors, so the cancellation will leave a gap in funding, according to Fernandez.

“Obviously we are disappointed in the city of Miami’s decision not to allow the Calle Ocho Music Festival to go forward this year,” Fernandez said. “The effect this will have on the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana will be detrimental to the organization’s ability to provide services and programs to underserved kids in the city during the upcoming year.”

Commissioner Joe Carollo, whose district includes Little Havana, Suarez and Commissioner Ken Russell signaled that the city will explore options to suppor the Kiwanis Club in light of the cancellation.

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