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El Portal festival celebrates life along the river

Residents of El Portal will honor the natural treasures and local history of their Northeast Miami-Dade neighborhood with a Little River Celebration Day this month.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Herald

El Portal will be paying homage to its historical and natural wonders.

The village will be hosting the first ever Little River Celebration Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. The event will start at village hall, 500 NE 87th St. The free event will include tours and live musical entertainment throughout El Portal.

“It will be a day committed to protecting, preserving and promoting the Little River and El Portal’s surrounding environmental assets,” El Portal Village Manager Jason Walker said.

The family festival will offer educational tours such as one featuring the birds of the village, which is home to peacocks, screech owls and ibis. It will be led by a resident who is also a member of the Tropical Audubon Society. The village is a designated bird sanctuary.

Florence Chamberlin, event coordinator, said the program will highlight the village.

“We are bringing positive attention to the unique environmental attributes of the community and celebrating with our family friends and neighbors,” she said. “We want to celebrate and let people know it is a wonderful place to live within urban Miami.”

Festival goers can view the Little River’s native plant and wildlife using kayak and canoe down the river to learn about the waterway’s history. The tour will be guided by anthropologist and village resident Dr. Hugh Gladwin. Registration is required in advance because of limited space. Those who attend can also learn about the Tequesta Indian habitation mound and the village nature trail.

Over at the nearby Horace Mann Middle School campus, music will fill the air as Fatala, whose music showcases traditional African folk composition, will be performing. Also hitting the stage: Inez Barlatier with her group Kazoots.

Families are encouraged to bring food baskets, chairs and blankets. There will also be a raffle.

Biking and walking are encouraged for the event. A few food trucks will be in attendance.

El Portal’s bridges will be decorated in interactive art installations. Peace flags representing cultures around the world will blanket the bridges and visitors are welcomed to create their own. The author of a children’s book on the Miami Circle and Local Tequesta history, Yvonne Moyer, will share local knowledge of the Tequestas and sign copies of her book, “Millie May and the Miami Circle.”

Neighbors can register for a village-wide residential composting initiative with CompostMobile. All scraps collected in El Portal will be given to the Horace Mann Middle School gardens and the nearby Little River Market community garden.

Chamberlin said visitors should attend “to celebrate and discover a hidden environmental jewel in the bustle of Miami”.

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