At 4 a.m. Tuesday there were already people in line ready for Mary’s Ranch in Hialeah to open.
When the gates did, there was nothing short of a mad dash to avoid a dreaded wait for a pig – the centerpiece of thousands of Noche Buena celebrations across South Florida.
Vivian Diaz, who was at Mary's Ranch with her father, said the day has a sentimental value.
“My father woke me up at 4:30 this morning saying we need to get here early. My father does not live here. He’s out of the country and he’s here for the holidays," she said.
Young Jocelyn Villafranca was also there with her dad. She was just taking it all in, making sure she picked the perfect pig.
“It was big and fat," Villafranca said.
But even at her young age, she felt some remorse for Tuesday night’s main course.
“They were sad because they were going to get killed," Villafranca remarked.
While Mary's has a slaughterhouse, on Tuesday it turned into a place that truly brought families together for Noche Buena. Evidence of that was obvious in the crowd that turned out.
For Diaz, the result may have been better with proper planning.
“We chose a pig that was 123 pounds. But that’s what we get for waiting until the last minute," she said.
But spending the day with her 74-year-old dad is something she won't forget.
“It has been interesting but very nice spending time with him, enjoying ourselves. So it was worth it," she said.
Workers at Mary’s say they go through almost 3,000 pigs during the holiday season.