MIAMI - Responding to an international media blitz and outrage from some in the Cuban American community, Miami city leaders vow to tone down a proposed large-scale public event at the Orange Bowl stadium when Fidel Castro dies.
And despite very preliminary plans that included the possibility of musical acts and themed T-shirts, the city stressed that it had never - ever - intended to respond to the death of a human being by holding a party.
It was more like providing a place for an informal, friendly get-together, city officials said, and marking a defeat for communism, not the death of a person.
"Our past experience has shown us that the local community has strong emotions tied to any significant issues relating to Fidel Castro," the city's Office of Communications wrote in a statement on the subject.
"The Orange Bowl has been designated by the county, as well as the city of Miami, as a possible site for people and community leaders to gather peacefully, if necessary.
"As such, no city tax dollars will be spent on this event other than to address public safety needs."
Mayor Manny Diaz said the Orange Bowl had always been part of government plans to accommodate overflow crowds in the event of Castro's death. Diaz said he was not consulted before a Jan. 23 meeting of a citizen committee tapped to plan the event.
"This is obviously not a planned activity that we budgeted for," the city's public facilities director, Lori Billberry, said at that meeting.
The idea that Miami would mark Castro's death with a celebratory event prompted a good amount of criticism - and coverage by the 24-hour cable-news networks and international media after a story in Monday's Miami Herald.
Plenty of Herald readers weren't pleased. They let the paper know via letters and e-mail.
Rachel Lauzurique of Coral Gables wrote: "I am a Cuban American who was uprooted because of this man. I despise everything that he stands for. . . . However, I find it very offensive and disgusting to plan a party to celebrate anyone's death, even his."