The stormy weather cleared midday Sunday and thousands of LGBT people and allies from throughout South Florida poured into Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood for the first Gay8 street festival on Calle Ocho.
Filmmaker Joe Cardona and financial advisor Damian Pardo spent months planning the festival, which celebrated LGBT art, music and culture in the heart of Calle Ocho between 14th and 17th avenues.
“It was way above anything I expected,” Pardo said Sunday night. “I am humbled that the Miami community turned out the way it did and accepted our message of inclusion and diversity to unite for a day of celebration with great music, food and fun.”
Many media companies, civic, political and social groups supported Gay8, including the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, Palette magazine, Univision, The Miami Foundation, Miami Dade College and Florida International University, Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, SAVE and Equality Florida.
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“From the beginning, the area and the merchants have been key,” Pardo told the Miami Herald before the event. “We could not do this without a Bill Fuller of Ball & Chain. We could not do this without Alex [Hernandez] of El Exquisito Restaurant, or the Little Havana Cigar Factory or Azucar Ice Cream. Many of those businesses have been giving us support all along. We want to make it great for the merchants. That’s the really important thing about this festival.” Calle Ocho merchants Club Havana, Cuba Ocho gallery and Molina Fine Art Gallery also are working with Gay8 organizers.