More than 50 years ago, thousands of Cuban youths escaped communism by coming to the United States as part of Operation Pedro Pan. Many of those children arrived in Camp Kendall, a temporary shelter and processing center located in what is now Kendall Indian Hammocks Park.
To memorialize the camp’s role in that great flight to freedom, the county will name the road running through the park “Pedro Pan Street.”
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier D. Souto and other county officials will join a group of former Pedro Pan children on Friday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m., for the co-designation ceremony at the park’s entrance at 8000 SW 107 Ave.
“Operation Pedro Pan rescued thousands of children from Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship, and this street dedication will pay tribute to Camp Kendall’s contribution to this great humanitarian effort,” said Commissioner Souto, who sponsored the Oct. 22 county commission resolution that authorized the street co-designation. SW 79th/80th Street between 114th and 107th avenues now will bear the Pedro Pan Street name.
Camp Kendall, located in the former Dade County Home and Hospital, served from January 1961 to January 1963 as one of the largest of eight group homes and temporary shelters in Miami set up as part of Operation Pedro Pan. It was run by the Catholic Welfare Bureau of Miami under the direction of Father Bryan O. Walsh.
Pedro Pan Street is the second street in Miami-Dade County commemorating the historic operation. Several months ago, commissioners adopted a resolution to codesignate W. 12th Avenue from 44th Place to 49th Street in Hialeah as “Operation Pedro Pan Avenue.”
Operation Pedro Pan, the largest recorded emigration of unaccompanied minors in the western hemisphere, brought more than 14,000 Cuban children to the U.S. with the assistance of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami, to fulfill the wishes of Cuban parents who wanted to save their children from Marxist-Leninist indoctrination under Castro’s new communist dictatorship.
In 1991, a group of former Pedro Pan children founded the non-profit Operation Pedro Pan Group Inc. to fulfill a pledge made to Father Walsh to “give back to the community.” One of their missions is to document their history as an important chapter of the history of Cuba and of the United States. The group donates to various philanthropic causes that help children in need, gathers and reunites former Pedro Pan children, and keeps the history of their exodus alive for future generations.