MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Big Orange, for the 33rd year, is set to rise above the downtown Miami skyline and ring in a new year, a year of hope the mayor says.
“By raising the Orange, we hope to raise people’s hopes and dreams and prayers for a brand new year,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said at a Friday news conference.
A hundred thousand people or more will jam downtown Miami in and around Bayfront Park and fill boats on the bay to watch fireworks, watch Pitbull perform on the park’s central stage, and watch the iconic Orange rise above the city. It’s all free.
“There is not a bigger party in South Florida, and I dare to say in all of Florida, for New Year’s,” said Miami City Commissioner Joe Carollo, who is also chairman of the Bayfront Park Trust.
The hope is the coming year will be one that staunches the violence in a city where gunfire has become a too frequent, tragic occurrence.
“Having three homicides in the last three days, and four shootings in the last three days, is not acceptable,” said Mayor Suarez. “We’re not going to accept that.”
As downtown fills with revelers Sunday night Miami police will be everywhere, in uniform and plain clothes, determined to assure the event will not be a soft target for those who might have terror in mind.
“We’ll have our aviation unit, our helicopter, we’ll have marine patrol, we’ll have K 9 units, we’ll have SWAT, we’ll have officers out on bicycles,” said Deputy Chief Ron Papier.
Police are also prohibiting certain items at the celebration.
“Do not bring portable coolers, they can contain glass containers and we don’t need broken glass,” said Ofc. Kenia Fallat. But she had an even more important warning: “Do not bring personal fireworks because they can be confused for gunfire.”
Traffic and parking will be a mess Sunday night. If you can, take Metrorail, Uber or Lyft as you lift your New Year’s spirits.
2018 is the Chinese year of the dog, symbolic of empathy and good karma.