In the past decade and a half, the Miami Heat has established itself as a premier championship pro sports franchise, run by a savvy front office headed by the legendary Pat Riley. But history could've been very different for the three-time NBA champions if it weren't for Shaquille O'Neal. Before Riley traded for Shaq from the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2004 offseason, the Heat was just another young, exciting team that was fun to watch but not taken very seriously by other teams. It wasn't until the Big Aristotle showed up that Miami became a true title contender. And when he stepped off a bus outside the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) and fired a giant water gun at the awaiting, adoring fans, he promised to make their championship dreams come true — and the man came through. Along with a young, dynamic Dwyane Wade, Shaq led the Heat to its very first NBA title in 2006. And this Thursday night, against the Lakers and five years after his retirement, the Heat will honor the big man by retiring his number and placing it in the rafters next to those championship banners. It's an honor that has been bestowed upon only two other Heat legends, and one that is arguably the most important in terms of the team's history. The ceremony will take place just before the 8 p.m. tip-off. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased at nba.com.
There's no doubt Hanukkah gets short thrift when stacked up against Christmas or Thanksgiving. Sure, it offers eight days rather than just one, but other than "The Dreidel Song," it simply doesn't boast the hits that its Christian counterpart can claim — "Silent Night," "White Christmas," "The First Noel," and all the other sacred songs. So leave it to Sarge to give the Festival of Light the respect it deserves, courtesy of his irreverent and uproarious production The Chanukah Chutzpah Tour... Kiss My Mezuzah. As the title implies, it's not your usual holiday pageant, but thanks to Sarge's triple-threat abilities — as a comedian, singer, and pianist — it promises to deliver more entertainment than repeated reruns of It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, and A Charlie Brown Christmas combined. Likewise, his spot-on imitations of Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Connick Jr., and Frank Sinatra offer all the nostalgia needed. Three years on, the tour is a Florida favorite. Then again, Sarge is a native son; born in Miami Beach, he overcame a troubled childhood and bouts of addiction to became a successful entertainer, author, and inspirational speaker. Who better, then, to give Hanukkah the respect it deserves? Sarge's The Chanukah Chutzpah Tour... Kiss My Mezuzah is presented by Singer Productions & Entertainment and will be performed this Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura). Tickets cost $39.50 and $44.50. Visit aventuracenter.org or call 877-311-7469.
Miami's nightlife scene is fickle, but the beauty of it is that locals like to keep their party history alive. And, of course, it all happens through late-night ragers that take us way back. This week, Fire & Ice will relive its glory days for a cause with the Fire & Ice Holiday Reunion and Toy Drive at Churchill's Pub (5501 NE Second Ave., Miami). Located in the heart of the Design District, Fire & Ice was the place to experience the diverse community — from surfers and drag queens to punks and goths — that only 1980s Miami could offer. But the one thing the party hall was notorious for was the music (here's where you would find some of the best New Wave, disco, and rock music of the era) and 25-cent drinks. Though the club shut its doors for good in the late '80s, the people and vibe live on. Fire & Ice reunion events have popped up from time to time, but unlike past getties, this one will be for the kids. In collaboration with Artists Collecting Toys, this event will be your chance to party with Fire & Ice DJs Cecilia Cruz, Mystic Bill, Carlos Menendez, and Jose Strummer, and in the spirit of the holidays, help bring smiles to children in need. All you have to do is bring an unwrapped toy and have fun reliving the past. The bash goes down this Friday at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door. Visit churchillspub.com or call 305-757-1807.
The Miami Dolphins have had a roller coaster of a season. They've seen their running game rise to the top of the league via the explosive Jay Ajayi. They have themselves a legit Coach of the Year candidate in Adam Gase. And they are actual contenders to get into the playoffs for the first time since the Zachary Taylor administration. But things haven't always been sunshine and roses for the Fins. Miami's defense has been Jekyll and Hyde at times, and the offense recently lost Ryan Tannehill to injury until at least the end of the regular season. And now comes a pivotal road game against division rivals the Buffalo Bills on Christmas Eve, when the fate of the season could very well be decided. So what better way to spend the holiday than by watching the Fins try to save their season while downing great food and free beer at Batch (30 SW 12th St., Miami)? The gastropub will celebrate Jingle Bowl by serving football fare and handing out a free Bud Light to every guest who arrives between noon and 12:30 (with RSVP). You can reserve your spot by visiting batchmiami.com or calling 305-808-5555.
'Tis the season to be single and ready to mingle for MatzoBall. Going on its 30th year, the "number one holiday party of the year" will make its Magic City return this Saturday. Presented by the Society of Young Jewish Professionals, the night is all about partying it up with like-minded singles, having a good time with your squad and making new friends, and maybe finding that nice Jewish girl or boy to take home. More than just a fun night out, MatzoBall attracts thousands of solo professionals from all over the nation through events taking place simultaneously from coast-to-coast, making it the perfect opportunity to network with that attractive lawyer for, you know, business purposes. And as part of MatzoBall's dirty-30 celebration in Miami, this year's rager will also include the MatzoSplash pool party Sunday, when partygoers can lounge poolside and recuperate from the previous day's shenanigans. Don't miss MatzoBall this Saturday at 9 p.m. at LIV (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) and MatzoSplash this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets cost $50 plus fees for MatzoBall, $30 plus fees for MatzoSplash, and $60 to $100 plus fees for both via eventbrite.com. Visit matzoball.org or call 212-389-9922.
We're used to sitting down with family under twinkling lights for Christmas dinner. What about switching it up and making a new tradition, Christmas brunch? Vagabond Kitchen & Bar (7301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) is throwing the brunch of the season this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Imagine yourself in the Vagabond's eclectic, upscale-retro space while stuffing your face with buttery chicken, oysters, bagels, pancakes, omelets, quiche, and other delectables. And don't forget those bottomless mimosas and bellinis. Pricing for Christmas brunch is $45 for adults, $15 for children, $18 for bottomless mimosas and bellinis, and $9 by the glass. If you have to be elsewhere Christmas Day, the Vagabond is also throwing a four-course Christmas Eve dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. It costs $69 for adults and $35 for children under 12. For more information, call 786-409-5635 or visit vagabondkitchenandbar.com.
As 2016 comes to a close, one thing is clear: Americans are afraid. Unfortunately, fear is like a virus, and the best way to beat it is its opposite: love. So Prayerdanse is just in time. The sacred self-love practice is "a guided study in sacred embodiment," developed by the founder of Miami's Sacred Space, love coach Rachel Levy, LMHC. Essentially, it's a moving meditation, a kind of conscious dance that allows participants to celebrate themselves, feel the flow, and release all the negativity they've been carrying around. For most of us this year, that's a lot of negativity. Why not send 2016 out on a positive note? Things have to look up from here. Prayerdanse takes place Sunday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sacred Space Miami (105 NE 24th St., Miami). Admission is free. Visit thesacredspacemiami.com/events or call 305-372-2502.
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Explore beautiful Native American customs and traditions at the 42nd-annual Miccosukee Indian Arts & Crafts Festival. Located in the heart of the Everglades, the Miccosukee Indian Village (Mile Marker 35, U.S. Highway 41 Tamiami Trail, Miami) will host the festival this Monday through January 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival will offer handmade items for purchase, such as contemporary Miccosukee art, native clothing, and jewelry. Other tribes from the north and south, such as the Apache and Navajo, will travel to the Glades to sell their arts and crafts as well. At the amphitheater, the Miccosukee tribe will put on a vibrant fashion show highlighting patchwork techniques and perform a captivating fire dance. Visitors can tour the village and see an alligator show, where members of the tribe will demonstrate the origins and methods of alligator wrestling. General admission is $12 for adults, $8 per person in tour groups of ten or more with reservations, $6 for kids 6 to 8, and free for children 5 or younger. Call 305-552-8365 or visit miccosukee.com.
There's something unusually ironic about the fact that one of the most famous ballets of all time, Swan Lake, was considered a failure when it debuted in 1895. It's equally disconcerting that its origins are somewhat muddled, considering that by all accounts, the scenario itself was apparently derived from a Russian folktale and the author of its libretto is in dispute. Granted, its music remains the most famous work by its composer, Peter Tchaikovsky, but for reasons that remain unknown, the ballet's first published libretto and Tchaikovsky's music often diverge, suggesting to some that the initial libretto might have been the work of a newspaper writer who was privy to the ballet rehearsals. The plot details the plight of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse, but as is true of most great works of the stage, it's not so much the story that matters, but the music and, in the case of Swan Lake, the delicate choreography as well. So now, with the holidays in full swing, what better way to celebrate the season than with the ability to duck daily responsibility, cozy up to a turkey dinner, and enjoy some leaping swans? A presentation of the State Ballet Theatre of Russia, Swan Lake will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay). Tickets cost $37 to $57. Call 786-573-5300 or visit tickets-smdcac.miamidade.gov.
Christmas lights are awesome, but menorahs are a miracle. After all, that oil lasted eight days — and all these years later, it's your annual chance to celebrate. So if you're more into menorahs than mistletoe, the annual Grand Menorah Lighting in Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) is the best way to kick off your Hanukkah celebration. The Rok Family Shul coordinates the festivities, and in addition to the lighting ceremony, there'll be a latke bar, doughnuts, a bounce house, arts and crafts, and music. At this event, all-ages fun meets a meaningful tradition, so bring the family and celebrate another reason for the season. The menorah lighting takes place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Visit jewishdowntown.com or call 305-373-8303.