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Miami Beach Celebrates 100th Birthday

By Angela Betancourt
Photography by Mitchell Zachs

On March 26th, thousands of people gathered on the sands of South Beach to celebrate Miami Beach’s 100th birthday. The city, in partnership with the Hard Rock, joined forces to host the Hard Rock Rising – Miami Beach 2015 Global Music Festival. The star studded concert featured Andrea Bocelli, Gloria Estefan, Wyclef Jean, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, Flo Rida, and more.

Though it was unusual to see such an unlikely collection of artists, the music line-up perfectly represented the melting pot that is Miami Beach. There was no denying it was a concert for the ages and a fantastic
conclusion to several weeks of nonstop celebrations across the city.

However, this anniversary was about more than just nonstop partying. The city, in partnership with local businesses and organizations, came together to celebrate the occasion in a variety of unique ways that reflects Miami Beach’s diverse cultural community.

Several days leading up to the finale concert, Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine presided over a mass wedding of 100 people (50 couples) as a part of the 100 years celebration. Among the happily wed were same-sex couples who were finally able to get married legally in the state of Florida. Same-sex marriage became legal in the state at the start of the year, and this marked a historic milestone for Miami Beach’s LGBT community.

The Art Deco Museum, founded by the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) in Miami Beach, opened its doors to host the Miami Centennial Photograph Exhibition. Renowned professional photographer Johnny Arraiz, whose been recognized by the Congress of the United States of America for giving his invaluable service to the community, showcased his latest exhibition “Miami Beach, 100 Years, 100 Photos,” which immortalized special moments in the city’s history. This exhibit was one of many hosted by the museum to educate and engage locals and tourists alike on Miami Beach’s rich history.

The Miami Beach Centennial celebrations became an extra special event for 100 men and women who passed their citizenship requirements and officially became citizens of the United States. Leon Rodriguez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officially welcomed these 100 new citizens after they swore allegiance to America. Representing more than 25 different countries, it was fitting to have this ceremony in a city that was built by immigrants from all over the world.

Orchestra Miami and The Leroy Schecter Foundation celebrated the centennial with a free picnic concert that took attendees on a musical tour through the highlights of Miami Beach’s history. Orchestra Miami believes in the power of music to strengthen a community. Now in its 8th season, they provide high-quality classical symphonic music and programming that celebrates Miami’s diverse cultural heritage. In order to reach as many people as possible, Orchestra Miami events are almost always free.

The Miami Beach Centennial was as much about celebrating its past and present, as it was about looking towards the future. As Miami continues to evolve as a global city and as its population continues to grow denser, its future becomes even more important.

In a show of its dedication to protecting Miami Beach from the effects of climate change, the city announced during the celebrations, that it has begun developing a variety of initiatives to generate more awareness about global climate change. The city is also planning on creating an environmental summit hosted by the Mayor that will feature scientists, educators, and other influential leaders from different disciplines, coming together to discuss environmental advocacy.

Miami Beach’s history helped define its foundation, but its present and all of the people, organizations, and businesses, who love the city today, will drive Miami Beach into the future and forward for another 100 years.

Happy Birthday, Miami Beach.

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