Hundreds of residents and special guests gathered Thursday night at the Homestead historic downtown to watch a film premiere — starring city officials.
Mayor Jeff Porter presented the state of the city address, but instead of delivering a speech, the city paid to produce a short film, Building Homestead.
The city’s Losner Park, at 104 N. Krome Ave., became a makeshift outdoor theater with lawn chairs, catering and a massive screen to show residents the city’s current projects in a 13-minute video presentation.
“This is my first state of the city. This is different,” Porter said. “It’s not a boring speech with me reading a script in a monotone voice and you going to sleep in the process. We are a very visual society so we have a very visual state of the city.”
This year’s state of the city address was a $12,000 production, budgeted as a line item from the general fund.
The video showcases projects that amount to the overall the revitalization of the city’s downtown: construction of the new city hall, plans for a new police station and the remodeling of the Seminole Theater as a cultural arts center.
The city also dedicated part of the video to some of the fixtures in the city, such as the Homestead Air Reserve Base and the Homestead-Miami Speedway, which brings spectators annually to watch NASCAR.
While Porter narrated most of the film, each council member made an appearance on screen as well.
Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley presented the importance of the Homestead Trolley as a means to boost tourism. The trolley takes visitors from Losner Park in the historic downtown to the Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park free of charge.
Members of the audience included representatives from important city partners, such as Homestead Hospital, Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.
Officials from neighboring municipalities and Miami-Dade County also attended the event, including county Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava and U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami.
After the screening, community members mingled by tables set up next to the food display with heaters propped up all around.
Margaret Ramirez, 75, has lived by the air base for several decades and looks forward to seeing all the city projects and plans come to life in the next few years.
Ramirez, who volunteers in the community center, said she is particularly excited about the renovations at the Seminole Theater, so she doesn’t have to commute to neighboring towns to enjoy a play or performance.
“The mayor and other council members seem to have our interests [at heart],” she said.