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On March 12, 2017, CHAT's President Stephanie M. Jones was immersed in Little Havana's annual vibrant cultural festival, Calle Ocho. Led by CHAT Miami alliance member and tour guide extraordinaire, Corinna Moebius, Co-Author of "A History of Little Havana", Ph.D. Candidate, they danced, they ate and danced so more to the lively Cuban beats. Celebrating its 40th year, the Kiwinis Club is the producer of the largest Hispanic street festival in the Southeastern United States. Couples danced salsa on the street, performers and musicians gave back to the community with their talents while rocking the 12 stages set up on the streets along 8th Street from 8th Avenue to SW 27th Avenue. Food was definitely one of the main attractions and vendors served up all types of Latin American and Caribbean delicacies. See more photos in our gallery.
CHAT was out front and center in support of the Little Haiti Cultural Center's (LHCC) Marketplace Open House on March 1, 2017. The festive event was a cultural explosion of Caribbean music, dance and food. Special guests included Chairman Keon Hardemon who introduced the Center's new Complex Manager Abraham Metullus. Congratulations on your new appointment Abraham! CHAT Miami alliance members Ashlee Thomas and Bart Mervil of the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE) were in the house too! CHAT Miami looks forward to collaborating with the LHCC to drive more locals and tourists to Little Haiti to enjoy the rich culture and history of community. Oh yeah, we must let you know that on 2nd Saturdays from 10am-4pm, you should head over to the LHCC Marketplace for the City of Miami's Caribbean Market Day. You will enjoy fresh fruits & vegetables, authentic local Caribbean food, local handmade arts & crafts and Afro-Caribbean entertainment. Please patronize our Haitian small businesses. Learn more at www.littlehaiticulturalcenter.com.
On the same day the South Florida News Service was taping our alliance members Carolyn Donaldson and Dorothy Wallace for our feature story, the ladies shared some great news. In December 2016, CHAT helped write a grant for Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to apply for funds to assist with the "Black Church Tour Experience" we are working to curate with Macedonia. Following the interview, Commissioner Ken Russell was scheduled to meet with the ladies to present an award check for $2,500 toward their tour development project. Congratulations Macedonia! You are well on your way and CHAT looks forward to helping to launch your tour product later this year.
(Pictured far right: Carolyn Donaldson, Trustee for Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church being interviewed in the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery, Coconut Grove Village West)
One of CHAT's goals is to create new business opportunities for our alliance members that translates into tourism foot traffic and dollars for their businesses. That's why we made sure to include Italian Ice by Denise as one of our tour partners on February 25, 2017 for our "Black Heritage + Innovations Hub Tour Experience." Located in Historic Overtown and the only shop of its kind in the downtown Miami vicinity, Italian Ice by Denise is owned and operated by a mother (Denise) and daughter (Bridget), both CHAT Miami alliance members. We brought a group of 40 tourists to patronize their business which happened to be the first time they ever received a group at their business. Needlesstosay, they were ecstatic to greet and provide exceptional customer service. They learned during the tourism marketing workshop that providing customers a quality product and exceptional customer services generates referrals and repeat business. We're so proud of this mother and daughter dual and look forward to bringing more tourists to their business.
This tall stature of a man is someone you need to know and governs a place you need to go. Professor Gene S. Tinnie is the Chair of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust located on Key Biscayne. CHAT had the pleasure to go chat with Professor Tinnie and boy did he have a lot to chat about. That's because he has a depository of historical facts about Miami, its African American trailblazers and the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust. He even shared with us that the beach scene from "Moonlight" of the young boy learning how to swim was filmed at Virginia Key Beach. Who knew? We didn't but now we do and so do you! CHAT Miami looks forward to exploring curating tour experiences to drive more locals to the park/beach as well as educating the community on the rich history about how Virginia Key Beach Park came to be! It's an amazing story that needs to be shared and we hope to help share it with others in the near future.
CHAT Miami was contacted by the South Florida News Service to do a feature story on us. Instead of putting the focus on CHAT, we decided to showcase some of our alliance members. One of our goals is to create marketing opportunities so locals and tourists are more aware of our community assets. We loaded the editor and videographer on our party bus and took them to meet and interview Jackson's Soul Food and Italian Ice by Denise in Historic Overtown; Culturales Viernes & Tour Guide Corinna Moebius in Little Havana; and Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Coconut Grove Village West. We wanted to allow our alliance members to shine, to tell their stories, and in their own words, talk about how they feel CHAT has impacted their businesses and why CHAT is important. King Tours & Transportation was also included in the interview. Talk about stretching an opportunity. Our alliance members are well worth it! We'll be sure to share the video clip of the interview once published. (Pictured seated: Pati Vargas, Director, Culturales Viernes, at Futurama in Little Havana.
How awesome for CHAT Miami alliance member Ayesha Jackson of Jackson's Soul Food to have the director and writer for the Oscar-winning Best Picture "Moonlight" stop in for some of our their tasty soul food. These hometown greats are from Miami's Liberty City area and filmed the award-winning movie right here in our backyard using local talent. We will beg to differ with anyone who says or thinks that our urban communities do not produce positive things and positive people. Just like our communities have many unknown talents awaiting to be discovered, they also have hidden cultural gems and stories waiting to be seen and told. Congratulations to the powerful, talented and gifted directors, writers and cast members of "Moonlight" for letting your light shine so brightly for the world to see!
On February 25, 2017, CHAT Miami had the pleasure of curating and hosting a customized tour during Black Tech Weekend. Our "Black Heritage + Innovations Hub Tour Experience" guided 40 techies from across the country on a tour of several tech start-ups in Miami and Wynwood followed by a walking tour of Historic Overtown which culminated with Soul Food and Italian Ice tastings. A great time was had by all as they learned a lot about Miami's flourishing technology ecosystem and the rich culture and history of Historic Overtown. The weather was great too! Thanks to Felecia Hatcher Pearson and Derick Pearson for choosing CHAT Miami. See more photos in our gallery.
Pictured L-R: Antonio King, CHAT Miami Alliance Member & Owner, King Tours & Transportation, Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson, Owners, Code Fever Miami and Stephanie M. Jones, CHAT President.