A Latin Tradition

The Dominos Help South Florida Children

The distinct clatter of ivory tiles slapping down upon tabletops is a familiar sound at Maximo Gomez Park, better known as Domino Park. Of course domino games are a popular pastime in the Cuban culture and have acquired essential characteristics of the Cuban identity.

The earliest reference of this game came from China, where it was probably created 1120 years B.C. The Italians were the first to play it in Western civilization, in the Venetian and Neapolitan courts.

Its arrival to Cuba, however, is not well defined. It could have been through the Asians or the Spaniards, who learned it from the Italians. Or perhaps dominos came through the Americans, who learned it from the British, the latter being responsible for the rise of the dominos in Latin America, particularly in the Caribbean and Cuba.

So it is no surprise that a park in Little Havana is dedicated to domino games. And it is also no surprise that one of Miami’s biggest charity events is devoted to these petite tiles as well.

Amigos For Kids (Amigos) will celebrate its annual signature event, ING Miami Celebrity Domino Night ’07. The event is slated for the evening of Saturday, June 16 and will take place at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“Dominos has a lot of cultural significance to both Cubans and Latinos in general,” said Rosa Maria Plasencia , executive director of Amigos For Kids. “This is why Celebrity Domino Night is so successful. More than 2,400 people attended last year’s event, and we expect even more this year.”

Amigos was founded in 1991 to respond to the diverse needs of South Florida’s abused, abandoned, neglected and less-fortunate children. The charity creates awareness for its cause through public service campaigns and high-profile fundraising events, like ING Miami Celebrity Domino Night.

In addition to the domino tournament, guests of the ING Miami Celebrity Domino Night will enjoy a variety of live musical entertainment including a special performance by Latin Grammy Winner Jorge Moreno and Miami’s Band. Amigos will also provide guests with dinner-by-the-bite courtesy of some of Miami’s most prominent chefs, caterers, and restaurants. There will also be an open bar courtesy of Dewar’s 12 and a silent auction.

“Our goal is to raise $500,000,” said Plasencia, “and all of the money raised will benefit the mission of Amigos For Kids. It’s about coming out and enjoying a great party, playing dominoes and helping children who need our help.”

Tickets for the event are $150 and domino tables for four are available for $1,000 each. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call Amigos For Kids at 305-279-1155 or visit www.amigosforkids.org.

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