Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Calle Ocho Walk of Fame :: Miami Latin Culture
Calle Ocho Walk of Fame The Hollywood Walk of Fame is known worldwide and is a major tourist attraction. Javier Soto wanted Miami to have a similar Walk of Fame in which Latin stars would be recognized. His dream came true on March 2, 1989, when Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine received the first star on the Latin Star Walk. However, this did not happen overnight. Forming a company, developing the idea, and getting the support and permission of local government organizations took time and became a long and drawn out process. It all started when Soto, a publicist, and his wife, Sara, an operator with ITT, formed the company called Latin Stars, Inc., in 1988. The purpose was to obtain the sidewalks in Little Havana between 12th and 17th avenue on Calle Ocho, the main street in Little Havana, to be reserved for the stars. The idea came about when Celia Cruz, the Cuban salsa queen, received a star in 1987 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Sotos were proud of her accomplishment, but they realized that many Latin celebrities would never be recognized in Hollywood. The Miami Commission gave their approval for Soto's project on December 17, 1988. The Little Havana Development Authority and the Latin Chamber of Commerce began their nominations. A seven-member committee chose the stars. Christina Saralegui, a member of the committee and editor of Cosmopolitan en EspaÃ ±ol, referred to the project as being a "Hispanic Hollywood". The downfall of Latin Stars Inc., this nonprofit organization run by Soto and volunteers, came in 1991, when the company went broke. An audit was performed, but their financial information was incomplete. Further problems arose when sponsors did not pay on time. These sponsors were needed to help cover the $6,800 necessary to pay for a star. This price is how much it cost in the early 90's to actually build the pink marble star, receive permits that were needed, and cover the price of the event that occurs the day a celebrity gets his/her star. From the money spent on the limousine to the security to printing up the invitations, the dollar amounts added up. In addition, Miami commissioners started to screen the celebrities being picked due to local controversy over the issue and their own concerns. On March 12, the city completely severed all relations with Soto's company. Adding to these problems, Soto was accused of hiring a hit man to kill Miami Commissioner Miriam Alonso.