Brightly colored hot air balloons floating peacefully in the sky. Competitive balloonists lobbing sandbags at on-ground targets. Motorists swerving in and out of lanes while craning their heads out car windows. Talent shows, free pancakes, and even a towering Energizer Bunny that stands fifteen feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. All this and more can be enjoyed at the Sunrise Community Balloon Race, a south Dade tradition now in its twentieth year. This weekend South Floridians are being treated to the friendly overhead spectacle as more than 40 balloons color the sky in early morning and afternoon takeoffs from Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (SW 128th Street and SW 137th Avenue). Watch as the balloons in a spectrum of shapes and hues inflate during three scheduled launches -- weather and wind permitting. Among the crowd-pleasers is the Hot Hare balloon, a super-tall, superpink version of the Energizer Bunny. In addition to the floating airships, guests are treated to a hearty pancake breakfast from IHOP, an array of live entertainment, and supercool cars showcased by various local auto clubs.
If you can't make it to the festival, be sure to look up while zipping around this weekend. Even though you may be grounded, there's something about watching hot air balloons that takes you up, up, and away. --By Patti Roth
Festival hours are 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 26, and 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 27. Admission is free. Proceeds go to Sunrise Community Inc., which helps people with disabilities. Call 305-275-3317 or log on to www.sunriseballoonrace.org.
No Crying for Argentina
In case you didn't notice, Miami's fast becoming a miniature Buenos Aires. You can hear the lilting accents of Argentineans in places that once were the domain of Cubans. Listen to the waitresses at Cuban coffee windows (even the La Carreta on Calle Ocho) or South Beach busboys and dishwashers. Wealthy Argies are also immigrating, but the large part of the exodus is hardworking and hungry for more of a foothold in America. To celebrate, the Argentine Festival at Bayfront Park Amphitheater (301 Biscayne Blvd.) brings acts from Argentina as well as the flavors of home. Gates open at noon. Tickets cost $15. Call 305-358-9911. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Vibin' 'n' Ridin'
"Even the most beautiful flower blooms and blights," a poet reasons. A city colored "Granny Smith apple green, hibiscus flower orange red," and "shimmery," says another. The city is a butterfly, an insect -- a mind-warping laboratory of interaction and exchange. Like "Miami-Dade gumbo." The images that inspire poets rove through streets on the sides of 100 county buses. Poetry, not slogans, provokes pedestrians, motorists, and all stripes of urban dwellers. The young thinkers and artists breathe life into the concrete, glass, and asphalt. Go outside, wait for a bus, and see "our thing" passing by. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Ever since your sinuses have been acting up, you've been laying off dairy pretty much all the time. But getting stopped up and experiencing the infinite delights of Rocky Road don't seem so bad when done in the interest of a good cause. Tonight from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors around the country will celebrate Free Scoop Night. Each scoop served means the company will make a donation to First Book, a nonprofit that gives free, spanking new books to kids from low-income families. Thanks to B-R, nearly a million kids have gotten their own books so far. Log onto www.baskinrobbins.com for nearby locations. -- Nina Korman