Miami, May 3 (EFE).- The characteristic clicking of dominoes on Monday once again began to be heard in the park in Miami’s Little Havana dedicated to the popular tablegame after 14 months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is relaxing. Many older people come here because we’re very bored at home. Here, I entertain myself by watching, the tourists come by and it’s cool,” Cuban-American Pablo Hernandez – one of those who came to the reopening of the park, a must-see venue for any tourist wanting to claim to have really seen Miami – told EFE.
In Domino Park, an historic site for Miami’s Cuban exile community, each day – before the pandemic turned things upside down, that is – a number of people over age 50 used to congregate to play dominoes and visit.
Hernandez, a retiree who used to spend three to five hours each day at the park, said: “I’m also happy that they’re demanding that we have our facemasks on.”
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department on Monday reopened all such facilities in Miami along with programs that in March 2020 had been closed down due to the pandemic.
According to current rules, facemasks are still required when people are inside public buildings, parks and even out in the open air if they are not engaging in physical exercise.
With the mural created by Dominican artist Oscar Thomas showing the presidents of all Western Hemisphere nations who attended the first Summit of the Americas in 1994 in Miami as a backdrop, the people – most of them men – wanting to play dominoes, one of the most popular tablegames in Cuba, on Monday hailed the park’s reopening and enjoyed a number of rounds of their favorite pastime as tourists crowded around watching.
“The reopening of our historic and world-renowned Domino Park is an important step in bringing a sense of normalcy back to the community. Residents will follow proper social distancing measures while enjoying a game of dominoes and savoring a cup of Cuban coffee,” said Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo at a Monday morning press conference in which Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and state Sen. Ileana Garcia also participated.
Maximo Gomez Park, the official name of Domino Park in honor of the Dominican general who participated in the Cuban war for independence, is located along the stretch of SW 8th Street – colloquially known as Calle Ocho – in Little Havana that also features the “Paseo de las Estrellas” (Walk of the Stars), reminiscent of Hollywood California’s Walk of Fame, with the stars here honoring Latin American actors, writers, artists and musicians.
With more than 40 years of tradition, the domino, card and chess games played in the park are exclusively for members of the Maximo Gomez Domino Club, in which lifetime membership is free and available to anyone older than 50, according to the El Gran Miami tourist Web site.