The city commission earlier this month appointed a committee — whose official job is to "Discuss an event at the Orange Bowl in case expected events occur in Cuba" — to plan the party. Such a gathering has long been part of the city's Castro death plan, but firming up the specifics has become more urgent since Castro became ill last summer and turned over power to his brother, Raul.
City Commissioner Tomas Regalado, a Cuban American, came up with the idea of using the venue for an event timed to Castro's demise. The Orange Bowl was the site of a speech by President Kennedy in 1961 promising a free Cuba and in the 1980s it served as a camp for refugees from the Mariel boatlift.
Castro "represents everything bad that has happened to the people of Cuba for 48 years," Regalado said. "There is something to celebrate, regardless of what happens next. ... We get rid of the guy."
At the committee's first meeting last week, former state Rep. Luis Morse stressed the need for an uplifting theme for the party — one not preoccupied with a human being's passing. The committee discussed including such a theme on T-shirts that would be made by private vendors for the event.
Several questions have to be decided. What musicians would perform? The city hopes entertainers will donate their services. How long will the event last? Hours? Days? And how much will it cost?
The plans have been criticized on Spanish language radio locally as the city dictating where people should party — many would prefer to celebrate on the streets of Little Havana. The city says the Orange Bowl celebration would not preclude that.
"This is not a mandatory site," Regalado said of the Orange Bowl. "Just a place for people to gather."
Ramon Saul Sanchez, leader of the Miami-based Democracy Movement organization, worries about how a party to celebrate a man's death would be perceived by those outside the Cuban exile community. He also pointed out that even when Castro dies, his communist government will still be in place.
"The notion of a big party, I think, should be removed from all this," Sanchez said. "Although everybody will be very happy that the dictator cannot continue to oppress us himself, I think everybody is still very sad because there are still prisons full of prisoners, many people executed, and families divided."