Rounding off a full day of parading through the streets of Miami for the Hurricanes Rosebowl Championship was the official University of Miami celebration. The festivities were held at the University Green located between the University Center and the Richter Library, Friday night.
The celebration included food, a fireworks display, and a live music performance from Libido.
According to local news reports, an estimated 1500 hardcore fans were present to cheer on the hometown heroes.
“The ticker-tape parade just wasn’t enough for me,” said Jose Davila, a fan from Florida International University. “This [championship] is too big a deal to celebrate with just one party.”
In honor of the event, a stage and television screen were set up to introduce the players and show video clips of the football season’s greatest plays.
A special message from President George W. Bush was also presented to the audience.
In his message, President Bush commended the Miami Hurricanes football team for being a positive influence on the youth of America and for pulling off a perfect season.
He also acknowledged the difficulties they must have endured as a result of having to balance athletics with academics.
“I agree with the President,” said sophomore Lacey Hickle. “It takes a lot of self control and discipline to accomplish what these players have attained”.
“I was very surprised at the President Bush’s speech,” said Maria Gonzalez. “I didn’t expect him to take the time out of his busy schedule to congratulate our school-wait! Now that I think about it, we deserved that!
“Hell, this team deserves to run the whole country themselves!” Gonzalez said.
Among the guest speakers at the event were the mayors of South Miami and Coral Gables, UM alumnus Roy Firestone of ESPN, The Voice of the Hurricanes, Mark Vandermeer, and President Donna E. Shalala.
President Shalala thanked the fans for putting up with the heat of September, the rain of October, and for showing their support in the stands.
“Not only is our team the greatest football team in America,” said President Shalala. “They are the greatest looking”.
“It’s important to remember that this was Coker’s rookie year,” said Jason Kaulffman. “He is only the second coach in history to go undefeated during his rookie season”.
Throughout the celebration, local television stations had live broadcasts, including NBC 6, WSVN 7, CBS 4, Noticiero 51, Telemundo, Eyewitness News 10, and Univision.
Power96 and WQAM News Radio also covered the event.
“I think this is fabulous,” said Tony Segreto of NBC 6. “I’m a proud alumnus of UM and this is great.”
“I’ve been on TV twice,” said Leo Wilson, a 10-year-old Hurricanes’ fan who came to the event with his older sister.
“I feel like a movie star…now I know how the football players feel,” Wilson said. “I’m going to be a ‘Cane when I grow up!”
Most of the fans enjoyed the festivities and were happy to bask in the glory of their team.
“I’ve been following the ‘Canes for 32 years,” said Mary Graulick, a fan at the event. “I’ve gone through all of the coaches along with the team.”
“I was the first person to shake hands with Larry when he stepped off the bus after they arrived from their triumph at the Rose Bowl,” Graulick said.
Coach Coker has thanked the media and community for the support they have given to the team. He said he is looking forward to opening the door on
yet another victorious season.