Parade honoring Miami Heat set for Monday morning

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MIAMI - Monday will be the second fan-filled championship parade for the Miami Heat. In the six years that have passed, much has changed near the parade route.

"A lot more people are moving towards downtown -- it's beginning to be a lot busier," said resident Kevin Kirby.

Kirby wasn't in Miami for the first parade, and neither was the downtown hi-rise where he lives. In 2006, most condominiums across from the American Airlines Arena were still under construction. Swanky spots to dine and drink, like Mia Lounge south of the arena on Biscayne Boulevard, were few and far between.

"Now with everyone living here and all that, it's a whole different scene," said general manager Shawn Shahnazi.

New urban dwellers and business owners pioneers will get a front-row view of the parade.

Mia Lounge is throwing a party.

"We're going to open early, about 11'o'clock, we're doing a big event outside," Shahnazi said.

Kirby plans to relax in his luxury 50th-floor apartment.

"You get to see everything," he said.

According to a spokesperson for Miami-Dade County, Monday's longer parade route was on purpose: not only to accommodate more people, but also to accommodate more residents and businesses in a fledgling downtown.

Shahnazi said he's happy to salute the  team that has helped his restaurant's bottom line.

"Having the Heat play is great for the economy, so it was good. Go Heat!" he laughed.

The city of Miami said the parade will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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City of Miami leaders met Friday morning at the American Airlines Arena with Heat representatives to begin planning the parade.

The parade will begin at Southwest Eighth Street and Second Avenue, travel east on Eighth Street and then turn north on Brickell Avenue. It will cross the bridge and go north on Biscayne Boulevard and into the American Airlines Arena via Northeast Eighth Street.

The parade will not be shown on the big screens at the arena.

The event is being scheduled for Monday, and not over the weekend, for a number of reasons. One is the cost: A weekend parade would require overtime pay for officers providing security. Also, the weather is not scheduled to be very nice this weekend. Click here for the forecast.

This year's parade will take a longer route than the parade took when the Heat won in 2006. That year, players and their caravan traveled in more of a loop near the arena. That was before some high-rises were completed and before businesses came in and downtown became the fledgling hot spot it is now.

Click here to see a map of the parade route.

Stay safe while celebrating

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue released the following list of tips Friday for staying safe while out celebrating the Heat's victory:

  • Be alert. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If you have a purse or a bag, make sure it is secure and safe.
  • Carry a bottle of antibacterial sanitizer. Where there are crowds, there are germs. Use sanitizer after using the restroom, before handling food, or any time you touch any questionable surface.
  • Choose a rendezvous point. Before heading out, designate a meeting area in case you get separated from your friends and family.
  • Use the buddy system. Make sure you are with your buddy at all times and seek help if your buddy needs it.
  • Bring water. We want to celebrate the Miami Heat, not come down with a case of heat exhaustion. Drink plenty of cool fluids throughout the day, but avoid those that contain caffeine, alcohol or a high sugar content, since they actually contribute to dehydration and make a heat-related illness worse.
  • Don't forget your sunscreen. Protect yourself from the sun and don't forget to reapply sunscreen often. You can also bring a hat to be protected from the sun's harmful rays.
  • Squash bites and stings. Don't forget to apply bug spray so you will not be bothered by pesky critters.
  • Be weather wise. Check the forecast before heading out. Bring raincoats and umbrellas if it will rain. If it starts to lightning seek shelter immediately.

Getting to the parade

With streets closed down for the parade and fans streaming into the area to watch, traffic will likely be snarled Monday morning.

Those who want to avoid driving can take the Tri-Rail train to the Metrorail Transfer Station on 79th Street, where they can grab the Metrorail to the Government Center or Brickell Avenue stations. From there, they can hop aboard the Metromover and take the Omni Loop to Bayfront Park, First Street, College/Bayside or the Freedom Tower shops.

It costs $2 to transfer from Tri-Rail to Metrorail, officials said. Those who don't have an EASY Card must pay the fee in cash with exact change.

Broward County Transit also is offering an option not to drive. Parade-goers can take the BCT 595 Express Miami/Brickell bus from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise to Brickell Plaza along the parade route. Buses leave at 7:10 a.m. and 7:45 a.m.

The first return trip on the 595 Express bus back to the BankAtlantic Center leaves the Brickell Metrorail Station at 3:35 p.m. There will 30-minute service until 6:05 p.m.

Broward Transit officials said BCT Route 1 on U.S. 1/Federal Highway and Route 28 on Miramar Parkway each take riders to the Aventura Mall, where they can transfer to the Miami-Dade Transit Route 93 Biscayne MAX or Route 3. Officials said passengers should ask for a transfer from Broward County Transit for a reduced fare on the Miami-Dade County bus.

Transit officials cautioned that riders need exact fare. Click here for more information.

For those who do decide to drive, the Miami Parking Authority said it has several parking options.

Drivers can park at Lot 19 on Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast Fourth and First streets for $20; at Lot 20 at the Chopin Plaza near the Hotel Intercontinental Miami for $20; at Lot 301 at Old Port Boulevard, which is adjacent to the north side of Bayside Marketplace for $20; at Lot C at the Arsht Center off Northeast 13th Street and Second Avenue for $20; and at Garage 3, the College Station Garage, off Northeast Third Street and Second Avenue, for $15.

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