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Cuban American Heritage Festival Plans Fifth Great Year

Key West, FL -- Stepping to "one, two, three, kick," Key West will revive a tradition, celebrate its Cuban heritage and live up to its fun-loving reputation this June with a conga line stretching across the island.

The Coast to Coast Conga Line will shimmy its way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico along legendary Duval Street during the fifth annual Cuban American Heritage Festival, set for June 14-19, 2004.

The Conga Line is just one of the highlights of the Festival, which is expected to draw some 50,000 celebrants to the Southernmost City for learning and festivities. A Symposium at the historic San Carlos Institute, elegant cigar dinners, happy hours, Cuban Heritage Trail tours, and will offer families plenty to do during the week long celebration.

The roots of many Key West residents are in the island just 90 miles south. Cubans started crossing the Florida Straits more than a century ago in search of freedom and work at the cigar factories, changing Cayo Hueso forever.

"Key West's Cuban American heritage plays an important role in United States history. We invite everyone to help us learn about it and celebrate," says Fred Salinero, who heads the non-profit organization that runs the Festival.

Salinero's grandparents were among the first wave of Cubans to emigrate to Key West in the late 1800's. Cuban traditions became a part of Key West's world renowned culture and reputation for diversity. Recently, efforts to document these customs and to preserve history have yielded new historic restorations, museums, exhibits, and revitalization of the art of making cigars.

"Key West produced millions of clear Havana cigars from Cuban tobacco each year. The local economy flourished and many Cubans stayed to establish new lives here. Even today, the Cuban influence is visible on almost every block, with the fragrance of café con leche and Cuban bread, and domino games played by men in guayaberas," Salinero says.

During the Symposium at the San Carlos Institute, scholars will cover a myriad of topics.

Activities are planned for everybody, from kids to grandparents. Serious domino players will compete at El Meson de Pepe Restaurant.

As the Festival date draws closer, more events will be scheduled. "We have big plans for our Fifth Annual Festival," says Salinero. "This is a community event that draws people from far beyond our tiny island."

The Festival brings visitors to Key West during a traditionally slow time of year.

 

     

Florida Keys Media Group Applauds the Fifth Annual Cuban American Heritage Festival

 

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