Michele Estevez was born in Chile, but she has shown her patriotic pride for the United States for almost 40 years by managing Key Biscayne’s Fourth of July parade.
“I have been living here longer than in Chile, because I came here when I was 21,” she said. “I have to serve for Key Biscayne.”
“So for me to be part of the parade is that it’s like I’m serving the United States of America. It’s a beauty, it’s an honor.”
Estevez, 67, moved to Key Biscayne in 1979 and started to help organize the July 4th parade the following year.
The parade, which opens with fighter jets roaring over Crandon Boulevard, has developed an enthusiastic following. Estevez has been one of the key players building and maintaining that tradition.
Today, she manages many aspects of the parade including the parade’s volunteers, suggestions for the parade marshal, selection of the judges, the parade’s line-up, securing committee meeting locations at all times, managing the parade float, and fundraising for the parade and committee.
A former member of the Key Biscayne Village Council herself, she often appears before the body to advocate for support for the event. The Village allocates $30,000 to partially cover costs like marching bands and care of horses — but she’s hoping for a small boost next year to cover the rising costs of bands, horses, and various rentals.
Before being able to feel the childlike excitement, Esteves navigates the stress of assembling the celebration starting in February.
She manages relations with the horse companies and various bands that perform in the parade, some of which come from as far as Baltimore.
“We have to rent two buses for each of the bands. Because one is for them and one for the instruments.” she stated.
She also handles relationships with the Key Biscayne Fire Rescue Department and Key Biscayne Police Department, who she said are a “big support”.
Finally, Estevez plays a role enforcing parade regulations, including this year’s new rule: absolutely no confetti during the parade.
“As I’m getting closer I get more excited when I hear the flyover,” she said. “There is not one single year that I don’t get goosebumps. Even now, talking to you, I get emotional.”
ANASTASIA IVANOVA is a junior at the School for Advanced Studies and is part of the Key Biscayne Independent's student journalism program. She earlier attended MAST Academy and was a staff writer for the school newspaper, The Beacon, and loves traveling, appreciating art, consuming and producing writing, and developing a greater understanding of the world.