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Daily updates on what's up in Coconut Grove and beyond including Brickell, Coral Gables and Midtown Miami

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Smile, you're on Coconut Grove camera

You may have seen antennas and radar-type devices around Coconut Grove; these are CCTV cameras, part of the Coconut Grove BID and the City of Miami's security initiative. It leverages the security ambassador services, BID off duty services and City of Miami Police force by adding more eyes to the streets.

A total of 10 cameras are scheduled to be installed in the first phase of the project. The cameras are only focused on the public right of way, not private property. You can see one set up in the center of the village above the Ambassador booth and the other two booths will also have cameras above them. These are not ticket enforcement cameras, they are only being used to deter crime.

The cameras will work day and night, they have night vision and zooming capabilities, they can actually zoom in and read a license plate. 



The police will be able to watch live streaming video. Right now, the Grove is the first business district in Miami using this technology.  In this photo, you can see one of the antennas on top of the Sonesta Hotel, there are others around the Grove. The project is fully funded by the BID at a cost of $46,000.

"I think the Boston bombing and subsequent solving of the case showed the importance of having a camera system in place, hopefully the community will like the fact that the BID take the community  “security” very seriously.  It’s a major chunk of our budget.  The District has historically fared well with Crime, we feel this can only make things even better on our end," says Manny Gonzalez, Coconut Grove BID director.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ERIC performing at The Grove Spot


The Epic Righteous Invincible Combo (ERIC) is back at The Grove Spot on Friday, April 25 from 8 to 11 pm.

ERIC is...

Eric Wagner on vocals & acoustic guitar; Fred Hsia on electric guitar; Bob "Bebob" Grabowski on electric upright Kydd bass and because Bobby Thomas, Jr., is currently on tour in Japan, they have special guest Sam Levine on drums.

ERIC is a unique, virtuosic, genre-defying, improvisational band featuring original songs composed by Eric Wagner and performed by Miami Jazz Masters.

Stop by for dinner and/or drinks and enjoy the show. The Grove Spot is at 3324 Virginia Street.

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It's the place to be


Vice President Joe Biden was in town last week and he had lunch at Greenstreet Cafe. This isn't a great picture, but it's better than one of him sitting and eating.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade among other celebs are regulars at Greenstreet. Seems like you never know who you'll run into there.

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"Meet the Wine Maker and Proprietor"

The Grove Isle Hotel is holding a "Meet the Wine Maker & Proprietor" wine tasting event on Thursday, April 24. 

The event, from 3 to 5 pm, will be followed by an exclusive Wine Maker Dinner prepared by Chef Ted Mendez. The dinner will feature wines from Bordeaux and Southern France.

The reception is at 6:30 pm and dinner is at 7 pm.

The wine tasting is $15 per person, and 4 Course Dinner is $79.

Please RSVP, it's a must: 305-860-4375.

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Johnny Dread performing at Green Market

Coconut Grove's inaugural Grove Green Market season will come to an end on Thursday, April 24, with a live musical celebration from local musician, Johnny Dread. The weekday farmers market has offered the community a place to gather and listen to live music while supporting local businesses.  

The market runs from 2 to 8 pm in the Coconut Grove Parking lot. There's free parking and a free bike valet.

The market will return in October.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friends of Chamber Music closes season

In the final concert of its 58th season, Friends of Chamber Music of Miami, South Florida’s longest running chamber music series, will present the young British piano virtuoso Benjamin Grosvenor (shown here) and the brilliant New York-based Escher String Quartet.

The concert will take place at 8 pm, Tuesday, May 6 at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall. Tickets are $35/$10 students.

Appearing together on tour this season, Mr. Grosvenor and the Eschers will be heard together in one of the most enduring chamber works of the 19th century, the Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81 by Antonin Dvorak. In his solo portion of the program, Mr. Grosvenor will be heard in works of Mendelssohn, Schubert and Gounod/Liszt.

Mr. Grosvenor and the Escher Quartet are among the most highly regarded musicians of the younger generation.

The 21-year-old first came to prominence as the outstanding winner of the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician Competition at the age of 11. Since then, he has performed with orchestras including the London Philharmonic, RAI Torino, New York Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Tokyo Symphony, and in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Centre, Singapore’s Victoria Hall, The Frick Collection and Carnegie Hall (at the age of 13).

The University of Miami Gusman Concert Hall is located at 1314 Miller Drive, Coral Gables. For further information and to order tickets visit www.miamichambermusic.org or call 305 372-2975.

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It's not all that in the scheme of things


There's talk of the digital sign at the bus bench on Grand Avenue being taken down. Apparently it is against city regulations to have it there. As for Van Wagner, the sign company, so many people have brought up conspiracies and there was talk of pay offs and things like that, but I highly doubt it because of this.
See these Times Square billboards that are three and four stories high? They are Van Wagner's billboards. I was there last week and happened to notice them.

So many of the Times Square billboards belong to Van Wagner, I don't really think our little bus bench billboard is going to make enough of a dent in their business as to have shady dealings over it.

At last week's Village of Center Grove meeting, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff has a 30 page report explaining the rules and regulations of billboards and advertising. The Grand Avenue digital billboard is not legal. More to come.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Multi-chamber mixer at Sea Level in Sobe

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce, along with many other Chambers from around the county are holding the multi-Chamber mixer at Sea Level at the Clinton Hotel on Wednesday, May 7.

Mix and mingle with local professionals, promote your business, share your ideas, expand your network and have fun. 

Members $10 in advance and $20 at the door cash only Non-members $15 in advance and $25 at the door cash only/

To purchase your tickets go to multichamberevents.com.

Sea Level is at 821 Washington Avenue in South Beach, valet parking is $10 and there is plenty of street parking. 

The event is from 6 to 9 pm.

Please RSVP to rsvp@fabulousmiami.com by Monday, May 5.

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Do Grove Isle developers have rights?

Gilberto Pastoriza, an attorney for the Grove Isle neighbors who are against the expansion of the island in the form of a new condo building said at a recent meeting that the plans to construct the new building and to knock down the current hotel, without the members of the condo association knowing about it, was on a fast track for approval by the city.  “The train was going full speed.  Our job was to stop the train," he said.

I don't want to take sides in the Grove Isle case, but in this case, if a building or condo is sold out is it fair for the developer to have any hold on the property and then decide to rebuild or reshape the development? Just because they owned the hotel, does it mean they control the whole island? But apparently they own the hotel land and they can build there.

Plan A is to build the tower on the location, Plan B is a spite plan where all condo amenities would be removed and five smaller towers would be built, maybe 5 stories high. Residents were told by lawyers that they don't need to choose Plan A or B and they can fight the construction project altogether. 


It appears that the majority of residents like the island the way it is. They don't want any changes.

A non-binding mediation meeting is set for April 21, but it may be delayed.

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Climate Action Rally and discussion

The CLEO Institute is hosting a South Florida Climate Action Rally and climate science briefing and panel discussion with Guest of Honor U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. 

Sen. Whitehouse will end his multi-state Climate Road Trip in Miami on Friday, April 25, at CLEO’s rally, where he will serve as the moderator for the one-hour panel and featured speaker at a rally to follow. The two-hour rally will feature elected officials, local business owners, cultural and community institutions, schools and other groups taking the stage to showcase the support for climate action in South Florida. The rally will take place at Pinecrest Gardens 11000 Red Road.

The agenda:
5 to 6 pm: Climate Science Briefing & Panel Discussion (moderated by Sen. Whitehouse)
5:45 to 6:15 pm: Press Availability
6:15 to 8 pm: South Florida Climate Action Rally (with Keynote Speech by Sen. Whitehouse)

This is an important week for bringing light to climate change, as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will be holding a field hearing on Tuesday, April 22, in Miami Beach to discuss the effects of climate change and sea level rise on South Florida.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Light refreshments and food will be provided.

CLEO offers climate leadership engagement opportunities to bridge the divide between science and society on the urgent issue of climate change. 

Sen. Whitehouse has helped lead the fight in Washington for action on climate change for years. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, he plays a key role in crafting policies to address climate change and environmental protection.

“South Florida is the area that is most threatened by sea level rise in the continental U.S.,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said, according to a Bloomberg BNA article. "We have a compelling story to tell."

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chamber to host Social Media Breakfast

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce is presenting a Breakfast Seminar Series. On Wednesday, April 23, the featured seminar is "Social Media Best Practices" hosted by Ygrene Energy Fund.

The breakfast is at the Mayfair Atrium, 3390 Mary Street, suite 124, from 8 to 9:30 am.

Speaking are Nathanial Perez from SapientNitro; Chesi Madej, Miami New Times; Melissa Goodis from Eyeball Digita; Johnny Todd of Yelp and Adam Hollander of SpientNitro.

This breakfast is free for Chamber members, $25 for non-members. You may register either way here.

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Erika King's Miami Heat Collages


Our friend, Grovite, Erika King, has a showing at The Studio Kanter Art Gallery (25 NW 7th Avenue of the Arts of Fort Lauderdale). It's worth the trip to see Erika's Miami Heat and NBA collages. There's an opening reception from 7 to 10 pm on Saturday, April 26, and the show will run through the Heat “Three-Peat” championship in June. Art collectors and Heat fans alike will have the opportunity of purchasing for the first time a canvas giclee Miami Heat Championship series of the Heat’s NBA titles from 2006, 2012 and 2013. 

This Miami Heat show will also include several original artworks and giclee prints of Heat MVPs LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, including LeBron’s highly collectable “NBA Rookie of the Year” collage from 2004. 

The NBA “Legends of Basketball – We Made this Game” collage by Erika will also be exhibited. This is the most important artwork ever created about the National Basketball Association and is produced by Cash McMahon, Icon Art Images and Sam Battistone, Dreamstar that features the hand signed autographs of 60 NBA greats. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton are included on the NBA Heat Legends piece that also features the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Charles Barkley and Kobe Bryant to name a few. NBA Commissioner David Stern has also personally signed each NBA logo on these historic collages. The producers have donated $250,000 to the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) as part of its partnership with the NBA players to give back to the older players who paved the way back in the day.  

Erika King’s Miami Heat history dates back to 1995 when she donated a team collage for the Heat Family Festival and met Coach Pat Riley. Over the years, Mr. Riley and the Heat have commissioned her to create Heat Championship collages, as well as personal tribute collages of Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and long time trainer Ron Culp for when their Heat jerseys were retired at the American Airlines Arena. Coach Erik Spoelstra has jumped on the championship band wagon and also has commissioned Erika to create his own Heat collage. 

The artworks capture the excitement and electricity of the NBA, while showcasing the sport’s finest players in moving, colorful, vibrant images commonly equated with their on court theatrics and athleticism.  

These NBA collages provide loyal fans with a historical, lasting, appreciable memorabilia that personifies the action of the NBA.   

Erika King is an internationally recognized, Miami-based artist known for the collages she has created for luminaries of the sports, entertainment, and corporate worlds.  Ms. King’s distinctive style features her trademark use of colorful acrylic paint strokes, which connect photographic images to illustrate a compelling visual story of a career, an event, or a history of achievement. An Erika King collage provides the recipient with a unique, lasting tribute, while capturing the most significant and personal memories of one’s life and legacy. 

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Betty Wright's closing reception at Kroma

The closing reception for the Betty Wright exhibit, "Living. Love. Lies," at Kroma is tonight, April 18 at 8 pm.

The exhibit celebrates conversations in art with live performance. Curated by Julia Polonyi, "Converstions in Art: Herstory: includes Mother's Love, Mr. Marley, Goovin' in the Grove, Pirates Chess and much more. 

Kroma is located at 3670 Grand Avenue. You can park on the street out front or in the lot at Douglas and Grand.

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Billiards by the Bay

Something new at Shake-A-Leg is Billiards by the Bay taking place Thursday, April 24.

Brandt's Billiard Restoration along with Skake-A-Leg is offering this prohibition-era themed event with an open bar, food, cigars and a game of pool on one-of-a-kind antique billiard tables. Play alongside the Big Fish (Think Minnesota Fats), try your luck in teams and get expert advice on how to "break," shoot "bank shots" and avoid "scratching."

Prizes will be awarded to the top performing tournament participants.

“A” Players – $1,000

Early admission, 5:30 pm

Private reception with open bar, hors d’oeuvres, cigars, entertainment
Shoot balls with professionals
Tips to improve your game
Option to participate in tournament
Special gift


“Cueists” (Tournament Players) - $300 per team of two

Admission, 6:30 pm

Open bar, hors d’oeuvres, cigars, entertainment
Participation in tournaments
      Prizes include:
      *First place – one hour of private billiards instruction by professional    
        AND a $500 custom cue stick
      *Second place - $500 custom cue stick
      *Third place - $250 custom cue stick

General Admission - $35

Admission, 6:30 pm

Open bar, hors d’oeuvres, cigars, entertainment Billiards play

Shake-A-Leg is located at 2620 S. Bayshore Drive. Please RSVP to RSVP@shakealegmiami.org

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Mayfair Hotel & Spa has new owners

Copperline Partners (West Palm Beach and New York) in partnership with Dallas-based TriGate Capital, purchased The Mayfair Hotel & Spa last week. 

The hotel was built in 1985 as the brainchild of Miami architect Ken Treister.   

“Coconut Grove is going through a dramatic transformation,” said Bobby Schlesinger, Managing Member of Copperline. “For us, the timing is perfect. With the addition of SapientNitro’s headquarters directly next door, and the multi-million dollar Grove Bay project, there is no better time to invest in the bright future of Coconut Grove.”

Heralding its 30th anniversary with the completion of more than $10 million in extensive renovations to the entire property and all interiors of the luxury suites, the Gaudi-inspired hotel represents one of Miami’s historic architectural masterpieces, blending Art Nouveau, Asian and Old World European inspirations.  

The Mayfair features 179 luxury suites, most with private terraces; they offer a chic rooftop pool deck surrounded by eight private cabanas.


“We are delighted to have completed the purchase of the Mayfair Hotel and Spa and look forward to partnering with Copperline Partners on this investment. Copperline, through its hotel management company Obadon, has done a fantastic job operating the hotel through the market downturn and we believe that the Mayfair is extremely well positioned to benefit from the exciting transformation occurring in the Grove”, said TriGate Managing Member Jeff Yarckin.


Copperline Partners has over 50 years of experience in hospitality and multi-family real estate management and development. TriGate Capital, LLC is a market leading real estate private equity firm focused on the recapitalization and repositioning of real estate assets and companies. 

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

JohnMartin's offering Irish-inspired Easter brunch

One of Miami’s oldest and highly cherished Irish gem’s, JohnMartin’s is inviting friends and family to join them for a delightful Easter Brunch.  For a great value, guests can enjoy a generous variety of holiday classics including some Irish inspired dishes.  Guests can enjoy the Easter Brunch on Sunday, April 20, from 11:30 am until 2:30 pm.   

Begin the brunch with an array of freshly baked goods, exotic fruit, domestic and imported cheeses, smoked salmon and seasonal salads.  For something more savory, a breakfast station will be available for attendees to customize an omelet.  Entrees will range from traditional roasted Leg of Lamb to JohnMartin’s novelty, Shepherd’s Pie.  To end the meal with decadence, dessert selections include an Irish Sherry Trifle, Tiramisu, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Mousse, fresh berries and more homemade treats.   

The price for the bountiful brunch is $29.95 per person for adults and $13.50 for children under the age of 12 years old.  In honor of the holiday, Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s will be specially priced at $5.00 each.  Those interested in attending Sunday’s buffet should make reservations by calling 305-445-3777. 

JohnMartin’s has been continually recognized for its cuisine by publications that voted the restaurant “Best Pub Food” for several years. The restaurant features live entertainment every Friday and Saturday nights. They feature Trivia Night, Thursdays from 9 pm – 11 pm and Open Mic Night on Sunday nights at 8 pm.

JohnMartin’s is located at 253 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-445-3777, or visit johnmartins.com

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Sushi & Sake interactive class at SushiSamba

SushiSamba Coral Gables is anticipating the next session of  Sushi & Sake 101, on Tuesday, April 29. The two-hour interactive class will introduce guests to the history and traditions of sake, the art of sushi making and offers an in-depth instruction about these two worldly traditions from resident experts. 

The class consists of a two-part educational experience. The sake portion is led by the restaurant's sake sommelier and includes five flights with an introduction to the history of sake, its common myths, pairing tips and more. From aromatic to aged to sparkling, guests will be exposed to a diverse range of sake from new prefectures every month - be it “sweet and spicy” or "rich and round with a sweet caramel finish.” Participants will not leave hungry and should bring their appetites. Throughout the class, you will enjoy a selection of signature dishes, a variety of sushi rolls, edamame, tempura and sashimi.
In the second part of the class, participants will gain insider sushi-making tips from SushiSamba Coral Gables’ Executive Sushi Chef Yasuo Tujimori, including  an introduction to the history and traditions of sushi, followed by a demonstration on the selection and preparation of raw fish.  But that’s not all - the class will conclude with all participants creating, and enjoying, sushi rolls of their choice. The students will leave the class with an informative take-away booklet designed to help apply this knowledge at home.

The classes are held in a private dining room on the last Tuesday of every month from 7 to 9 pm. The two-hour classes are $85 per guest and limited to 25 guests per class. 

Upcoming dates are as follows: April 29, May 27 and June 24. 

SushiSamba Coral Gables is located at 180 Aragon Avenue, in the Westin Colonnade Hotel.

To reserve a space for a class or to learn more, please call 305.448.4990 or visit sushisamba.com 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grove track club looking for sponsors

For over 13 years the Miami Coconut Grove Track Club (MCGTC) has served our community by helping children maximize their athletic skills. This year over 30 athletes ages 5 to 15 are part of the membership. 

MCGTC is a self-funded organization and relies on the hard work of volunteer coaches and parents. All season long, there are many costs associated with attending weekly local track meets, culminating in travel to 2014 ESPN Primary National Championships in Orlando, FL and to the 2014 AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, IA. 

In order to participate in Nationals, the athletes must qualify through a course of regional competitions and the best move on to the National stage. The coaches are confident that nearly all athletes can and will qualify. However, because track members and their families have to pay the cost for travel and participation in the Nationals, many of them will not make it to that level. We believe that children should have the opportunity to display their talent in the track as part of the team. 

Although the club has held many fundraisers throughout the track season, we still need additional support from the community. 

MCGTC is inviting the Coconut Grove community to sponsor our youth athletes. With your help, we will continue to bring together the true spirit of integrity and commitment to our neighborhood. 

To learn more about becoming a Miami Coconut Grove Track Club Sponsor please contact: 

Carl Springer
Head Coach
3380 Frow Ave Miami, FL 33133

Phone: 305-305-8556 

E-mail: mcgtc1@gmail.com 

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Is the playhouse salvageable; will it be saved?

I can't help but think they were just going through the motions a couple of weeks ago at the Playhouse meeting at City Hall. I really think that those who are restoring the playhouse are going to do what they are going to do. But that's the problem, is "restoring" the correct word or is the whole building being planned for demolition? salvageable 

It seems as if a popular plan calls for the facade to be saved and the rest of the building, a brand new structure build around it, will house a smaller 300 seat playhouse along with retail and a garage. But will it also include condos above and a CocoWalk type retail center surrounding the whole thing?


Architect Richard Heisenbottle's design.
The perfect plan looks to be that of architect Richard Heisenbottle which maintains the look and most of the footprint of the current playhouse, but we all know that when investors and developers are involved, there is going to be zero lot lines and heights as far up as allowed by law.

Some of the old playhouse employees feel that the interior is the important thing here, not the facade, but all the memories inside, including the stage, the seating, the dressing rooms and offices. While others feel that there was never enough room backstage or above the stage for proper productions, although for over 50 years that didn't seem to stop them from putting on first class shows. So what's the answer? 

In all these years that the playhouse has been falling apart, with an open roof and constant flooding, only two people have done anything to protect it;  I have two friends who contacted the state, who stepped in and did some work and then they also and did some repairs themselves to try and protect the old building from the elements. 

There will be other meetings on the subject.

Architect Richard Heisenbottle's design.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moonlight Garden Tours at Vizcaya

Now's your last chance this season to see Vizcaya's bayfront gardens transformed by the glow of a bright Miami moon. Their featured Moonlight Garden Tour is Wednesday, April 16 and Thursday April 17 from 6:30 to 9 pm.

Enjoy live music in the Courtyard before or after (or both) strolling through the gardens. Wander on your own, or take one of our free guided tours for that extra bit of "insider" information.

Complete the evening with a glass of wine, available for purchase, by the bay or indulge in the delicious temptations available in the Café & Shop and you'll see why Moonlight Garden Tours are a visitor favorite.

Tickets $18; $12 for Members, Seniors and Students with ID; available on-site only from 6:00-8:00 pm on the evening of the program. 

Not all areas of the gardens are wheelchair accessible and decorated rooms will not be open. 

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue. For more information, go to vizcaya.org or call 305-250-9133.

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She was given permission to breathe though

At the recent BID meeting regarding the beer and film festivals, one of the presenters for one of the festivals was trying to accommodate all the city rules, but it really is crazy. When asked about port-o-pottys she was all flustered because she didn't know what the correct answer would be. How many did they want, a lot? A little? It was quite comical.

She said something like, "three, four six? is that too many? we'll do less."

She brought up the food trucks and you could just feel every cringe in the room. That's a no no in the Grove. We can't have competition or the illusion of it. Not a good thing.

The poor girl was even questioned about the sound check -- don't make it too long, don't make it too early, don't make it too loud. 

And then someone asked about the size of the crowd. "We don't want it to be too large." We can handle a huge arts festival with 150,000 people or more, but a beer and movie night in the park is being questioned?

Just the fact that people want to come into Coconut Grove and put on events that don't cost the Grove anything is a big plus.They bring thousands of people and they pick up the cost. Why make it difficult for them?

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