Remember the celebration of the new year, decade, century, millennium? Maybe through a haze, but as New Year's celebrations go, that was the biggest anyone living will ever experience, and when it comes to New Year's celebrations, bigger is always best. One aspect of the 20th-to-21st century moment that was both cool and popular (a rare but pleasing combination) was its global nature. People who weren't, say, out in the middle of the Everglades at the Phish festival, watched their television sets as 2000 arrived in Japan, Europe, North America -- literally around the world. The new year was rung in over and over in each time zone.
Bayfront Park's salute to annualism isn't that worldly, but the core idea is the same: global. And in multicultural Miami, global is always good. And yes, this is the big one. Bayfront Park, the City of Miami, and the county are all behind this downtown version of Times Square's more famous countdown, and it's being billed as the largest free party in South Florida, which would make it the largest party -- period. At midnight the Big Orange will ascend the tall wall of the Hotel InterContinental. While it doesn't yet qualify as a tradition, the upwardly mobile ball of orange lights is pretty nifty and kind of funny. The real point, of course, is the party, and that will be fueled by international music aimed directly at the feet (and butts) of celebrants. Headlining is venerable Cuban maestro Roberto Torres, who mixes styles from his homeland with Colombian rhythms, vallenato mostly. Reggae ironman Freddie McGregor, who employs a number of Caribbean styles to make his three-beat riddims all the more jump-up, will have you shaking and baking. Betty Padgett & Elements of Funk will get the party started with funky R&B, including covers of popular songs full of vigor.