The annual pilgrimage of the Ermita de la Caridad shrine from her home in Coconut Grove to the American Airline’s Arena downtown. The shrine is a holy Catholic relic which was smuggled out of Cuba and dramatically arrived in Miami by boat September 8, 1962 to the throngs of 30,000 spectators. For Cuban American Catholics she symbolized hope and faith, both a connection to Cuba and freedom from Cuba.
Every September the pilgrimage is recreated with thousands of spectators in attendance. This year was particularly special because it celebrated the shrine’s 400th anniversary. Like any popular event, downtown was packed. We wanted to take our young children, but didn’t dare go to the spectacle downtown. Coconut Grove was a much better option.