The holiday parade season is coming to an end, sadly, so get out there and enjoy the festivities while they last. The 56th annual Junior Orange Bowl Parade is saluting our country this year with its patriotic theme of "Celebrating America." Wear plenty of red, white, and blue to show your spirit as you take in the spectacle of giant inflatable balloons, colorful and creative floats, and jamming marching bands. Additional parade units include the America Rodeo Beauties of Homestead, the South Florida Super Stars drill team and baton twirlers, and everyone's favorite fez-wearing drivers of little cars, the Mahi Shriners. The parade starts tonight at 7:00 in front of the Coral Gables City Hall (405 Biltmore Way) and snakes its way through downtown, marching along Miracle Mile to Ponce de Leon Boulevard. The event is free but premium grandstand seating is available for $15. Call 305-662-1210 or visit (LO)

FRI 31

This past year may have been a crazy one all over the world, but few places had a more devastating twelve months than Haiti. In a year that should have had a meaningful and celebratory tone, Haitians found the bicentennial of their independence marred by calamities, from political violence to social unrest to devastating natural disaster. It hurts Jude Papaloko's heart. This artist/musician/renaissance man wants to forget politics and spread the healing power of love at Haiti 1804-2004: A Celebration of the Haitian Revolution. More festival than party, expect music from Papaloko himself and Loray Mistik, dancers, drummers, and Haitian nationals speaking out about their country's fate starting at 9:00 tonight at the Jakmel Art Gallery, 2301 Biscayne Blvd. Admission costs ten dollars, and the money from tonight's shindig will go to Papaloko for Kids, Jude's charity for the deprived children of Haiti. Call 305-573-1631 or visit (PEGY)


New Year's Eve is a time to reflect, resolve, kiss strangers, and party like a rock star. If you did the auld lang syne right, you woke up this morning feeling as though some sadist stuffed a pair of dirty socks in your mouth, then beat you up with an aluminum baseball bat. Get yourself up, dust yourself off, and start 2005 over again. Imbibe a high-class hair of the dog at a New Year's Day brunch. Chase away the hangover blues with mimosas and bloody marys, and enjoy sumptuous, artistically presented cuisine. After your meal you can venture onto the outdoor patio, gaze at the Atlantic Ocean, and contemplate that list of resolutions you will try to keep. Enjoy the feast at the Purple Dolphin in Key Biscayne's Sonesta Beach Resort, 350 Ocean Dr., Key Biscayne. Adults pay $27, $16 for children under twelve. Call 305-365-5007 or visit (PEGY)


Ted Striker stares gloomily at the soldiers in the psych ward. "That's Lieutenant Hurwitz," he explains to a visitor. "Severe shell-shock. Thinks he's Ethel Merman." The camera pans to a familiar woman with an even more familiar voice. "You'll be swell! You'll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate! Starting here, starting now, honey everything's coming up ... roses..." she sings, as the nurses inject "the lieutenant" with anesthesia. That memorable cameo in the 1980 hit comedy movie Airplane! was Merman's last screen role. Now EDGE Theatre summons the spirit of the Broadway legend via a séance in Merm and Me. Written and directed by EDGE founder Jim Tommaney, the play draws upon his personal friendship with Merman. Tonight at 7:00 at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes. Admission is $20. Call 786-355-0976. (PEGY)


It was the late afternoon, around 1840 in chilly old England, when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, became hungry. It was between lunch and a fashionably late dinner when the poor girl needed a snack, so she asked for a tray of tea and cake to be brought to her room -- and a tradition was born. Locally the Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables) hosts an afternoon tea where you can listen to the sound of piano classics as you sip your tea of choice and nibble on delicious scones with English cream and preserves. You can also sample a delightful array of finger sandwiches made with salmon, ham, watercress, cheese, and cucumber, plus a selection of desserts. Seating for the afternoon tea is at 3:00 and 4:30, Monday through Saturday, and the cost is $18.80, which includes tax and gratuities. Call 305-445-8066 ext. 0 to make reservations. (LO)


"It's all getting more complicated. Marriage is temporary, girls' navels are exposed on the street, and men kiss each other. So I've done what any man would do -- write a show about it!" gushes composer Charles Strouse. The man behind Broadway successes such as Bye Bye Birdie, All American, Rags, Applause, and Annie is back with Real Men, a musical of brand-new songs that delve deeply into the secret lives of men and their relationships with their women, their children, their parents, and each other. The gay and lesbian happy hour before the play's preview promises affordable preshow fun: $15 gets you hors d'oeuvres, a free cocktail, and admission to the Real Men preview at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove. Happy hour starts at 6:30 and showtime is 8:00. Call 786-552-0461 or visit (PEGY)


The Miami Heat are really on this season. Point leaders Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade seem to be doing things right both on and off the court, with a winning season and no bad behavior (so far). Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem also recently kicked off the NBA's Read to Achieve program with his mom Debra Haslem by reading Snappy Little Jungle to a group from Amigos for Kids. Isn't that the sweetest? The NBA's reading program is a worthy campaign to encourage young people to develop a lifelong love of books and reading. The Heat will provide three more special reading events throughout the season, in addition to giving away books and creating reading centers around the area. Applaud the Heat and their community service deeds tonight as they take on the New York Knicks at 7:30 at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd. Tickets range from $10 to $220. Call 786-777-HOOP or visit (LO)

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Lyssa Oberkreser
Contact: Lyssa Oberkreser