Big Deco Deal

The Miami Design Preservation League celebrates its 28th annual Art Deco Weekend with the theme "Art Deco and the New Deal." The event was created to raise awareness of the Art Deco era (roughly 1925-1945) and attract visitors to Miami Beach's historic district. South Beach no longer needs any added attention, but Miami loves any excuse to party. This year's festival salutes the Works Progress Administration (WPA), one of the "New Deal" government agencies that created public works in the Thirties. The WPA employed eight million people during the Depression and produced a stunning collection of literature, photography, art, and architecture. The weekend's schedule of films, lectures, and entertainment will give props to the WPA and its contributions to the Art Deco landscape of Miami Beach.

Here are some highlights of the event-packed weekend:

On Friday, January 14, The Art Deco Welcome Center hosts a lecture at 6:30 p.m., "Historic American Buildings Survey and the American Architect," led by Frank Sanchis, senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society of New York.

Also on Friday, you can catch the Miami Performing Arts Center's new street theater troupe, "Urban Disturbance," on the south stage (Seventh Street and Ocean Drive) at 8:00 p.m. Don't be afraid to laugh at their impromptu musical skits, improv sketches, and kooky antics.

Saturday, January 15, is parade day. Get set to ooh and aah at all the sweet rides in the Antique Cars and Marching Band Parade starting at 11:00 a.m. at Sixth Street and Ocean Drive. Or you can get freaked out by stiltwalkers and giant puppets during the Mardi Gras-style Parade of Deco Characters, featuring the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Carmen Miranda, and Mae West, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, Momentum Dance Company will perform works inspired by the modern dance pioneers of the Thirties and Forties, including Martha Graham and Anna Sokolow, on the south stage at 8:00.

Several tours are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, including "Ocean Drive and Beyond" walking excursions from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; tickets cost $20. Duck Tours will provide land and sea adventures at 2:00 p.m., with ticket prices ranging from $10 to $35. Reservations are highly recommended and can be placed by calling 305-672-2014.

Film screenings also will take place all weekend long, from the Depression-era musical 42nd Street showing in Lummus Park (between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday to Chaplin's Modern Times set for Sunday morning at the Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr.) starting at 10:00.

The weekend festival ends on a big band note with a rousing performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra on the main stage at Tenth Street and Ocean Drive. The "Swing Under the Stars" concert starts at 8:30 and tickets cost $30.