In the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana, one of the world’s great street festivals burst forth with typical revelry yesterday. Begun in 1978, just two years before the massive Mariel boatlift brought more than 100,000 Cubans to Florida during a single summer, Calle Ocho closes down 24 city blocks along SW 8th Street to celebrate Cuban heritage.
The competitive Cubans annually seek to break one or more world records at the festival, such as having the world’s largest cigar (sometimes that’s just what it is.) And it’s not just Cubans: this year’s record was for the One World Flag, a banner comprised of the flags of all nations, hoisted by representatives from over a hundred of them. It was the largest image ever created from flags, according to observers from the Guinness Book. In 1988 Calle Ocho boasted the longest Conga line in history, with 119,986 people joined at the hip. Four people standing nearby at the time still regret not joining in.