West Miami-Dade

Camp Matecumbe Field Day to honor Operation Pedro Pan and historic site

Cuban boys in the Pedro Pan program take auto mechanics classes at Camp Matecumbe in the early 1960s.
Cuban boys in the Pedro Pan program take auto mechanics classes at Camp Matecumbe in the early 1960s. Courtesy

Several organizations, including Operation Pedro Pan Group, have joined forces to organize a field day on Saturday at a former Southwest Miami-Dade camp site that has played an important role in local Cuban exile history and environmental heritage.

The Camp Matecumbe Field Day, hosted by Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, aims to bring awareness to Operation Pedro Pan, a clandestine operation organized by the Catholic Church and the U.S. that brought 14,048 Cuban children to the United States from Communist Cuba between 1960 and 1962. Hundreds of teenage boys who took part in the program were housed at Camp Matecumbe until they were reunited with family members or sent to foster homes.

The camp site at 13842 SW 120th St. also has a rich environmental heritage and last year was the source of some controversy when voters were asked to vote on a charter amendment to loosen restrictions on other uses allowed for Miami-Dade parkland. By a 60-40 margin, voters approved allowing cabins and lodges at Camp Matecumbe.

The Field Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with Operation Pedro Pan Group Inc.’s annual picnic. Activities will include tours, personal accounts, giveaways and other activities.

The public is encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. For more information, call 305-375-5511.

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