Mardi Gras might come to the streets of North Miami next year.
A pitch to draw thousands to the city for the signature event in 2014 is gaining traction. The item will be considered at Tuesday’s council meeting.
North Miami’s Mardi Gras would feature lavish floats, costume-clad revelers and popular musicians from across the Caribbean and Latin America.
All five members of the City Council have expressed support for a Mardi Gras-like event, but the details on how to host the event in the city’s boundaries are not yet clear.
The mastermind behind the revelry proposal is Rulx “Ringo” Cayard. Once a prominent political player in the Haitian community, he has mostly been out of the limelight following a seven-year long racketeering, grand theft and money-laundering case against him that fell apart last year.
Cayard said he will ask the city for $120,000 upfront to produce the Mardi Gras. He said sponsorships from big-name corporations and costume and float donations from other countries that host Mardi Gras will offset the production costs
“It’s going to bring a lot of income and harmony ,” Cayard told the City Council at a February meeting
Cayard organized a similar festival for Miami-Dade County from 2002 to 2006. Dubbed the Annual Greater Miami Mardi Gras, the colorful carnival was lauded for it cultural diversity. More than 20 nations were represented and 300,000 people lined the streets of downtown Miami to celebrate.
Miami-Dade County subsidized the event from its inception, but stopped in 2005. Relations between Cayard , former executive director of the now-defunct nonprofit Haitian American Foundation, and the county became strained after allegations Cayard siphoned thousands from county grants intended for his nonprofit and the Mardi Gras parade.
The corruption case against Cayard fizzled in September when all but three grand theft charges were dropped. He entered a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders that will lead to no prosecution and a possible wiping of his record.
Cayard has maintained his innocence all along.
“I finished the program. I was victimized by the powers that be of the system. There was nothing, that’s why they’re going to have to drop the charges.”
In a way, the North Miami Mardi Gras is his way of reentering the public arena after years of keeping a low profile.
“This is a way for me to start my life again that I’ve been deprived of for almost seven years,” Cayard said. “For my own soul, this will keep me in touch with helping a community gain harmony. North Miami has people from all parts of the world. I really enjoy connecting those cultures.”