Preparations Are Underway for the Big Orange Spectacular

This year's New Year's theme is "Booya booyaka"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This weekend, for the 25th time, thousands will gather in Downtown Miami to ring in the New Year as the city's famous Big Orange inches up the Intercontinental Miami's 400-foot high wall.

    If that sounds odd, Mayor Tomas Relagado said, it all makes sense in Miami.

    "Everyone in the media was asking, 'Why the big orange goes up instead of coming down?' and it's what Miami is all about and downtown going up," the mayor explained.

    What might also need explaining is this year's Big Orange New Year's Theme.

    It's "Booya booyaka," a phrase that is said to have Caribbean origins and means noise and excitement.

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    Organizers said Wednesday that is precisely what New Year's Eve revellers would be in for this Sunday. From fireworks, to free concerts featuring A-list music acts like Ludacris and Mike Posner, to free yoga lessons, and cultural concerts, the 25th annual Big Orange celebration is on track to be the biggest ever. It's a far cry from the fireworks finale to the Orange Bowl parade hatched nearly a quarter century ago, remembered Marty Trainer, who helped launch the Big Orange tradition.

    "We put about $15,000 dollars worth of fireworks on the roof, and I was with Rodney and Corky, and I said, 'Oh God, we blew the roof off.' I couldn't believe it," Trainer remarked.

    The roof survived, and so did the Big Orange tradition, thanks to a continued partnership between the City of Miami, the Downtown Development Association, the Intercontinental Hotel, and nearby Bayfront Park.

    Looking back, the Big Orange staff said New Year's 2002 was one of its most important celebrations.

    Just months after the September 11th attacks, it was a time when few people were interested in partying, and the color orange became tied to the nation's terror alert system.

    "Even though we had the orange alert, people still came down, and they came because of American pride. They came because of their sense of resilience. They came because it was the right thing to do," said Cornelia Dozier, executive director of the Greater Miami Host Committee.
     
    Throughout the day Wednesday, crews prepped the Big Orange for its big unveiling Sunday afternoon.

    This year, it will feature a new animated face as it scales up to count Miami down into the new year.