Miami — The city of Miami is planning an official celebration at the Orange Bowl whenever Cuban president Fidel Castro dies.
Discussions by a committee appointed earlier this month by the city commission to plan the event have even covered issues such as a theme to be printed on T-shirts, what musicians would perform, the cost and how long the celebration would last.
City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, a Cuban American, came up with the idea of using the Orange Bowl, noting that the stadium was the site of a speech by President Kennedy in 1961 promising a free Cuba, and that in the 1980s it served as a camp for refugees from the Mariel boatlift from Cuba.
"Basically, the only thing we're trying to do is have a venue, a giant venue ready for people, if they wish, to speak to the media, to show their emotions. It's not that we're doing an official death party," Regalado said Monday.
Former state Rep. Luis Morse stressed the need for an uplifting theme for the party - one not preoccupied with a human being's passing.
Critics have accused the city of dictating where people should party, with many preferring to celebrate on the streets of Little Havana.
The city says the Orange Bowl celebration would not preclude that.
"This is not a mandatory site," Regalado said of the Orange Bowl. "Just a place for people to gather."
Ramon Saul Sanchez, leader of the Miami-based Democracy Movement organization, worries about how a party to celebrate a man's death would be perceived by people outside the Cuban exile community.
Sanchez also pointed out that, even after Castro dies, his communist government still will be in place.
"The notion of a big party, I think, should be removed from all this," Sanchez said. "Although everybody will be very happy that the dictator cannot continue to oppress us himself, I think everybody is still very sad because there are still prisons full of prisoners, many people executed and families divided."