Published November 27, 2012
The glowing neon orb with a sunny smile and sunglasses lighting up South Florida’s Intercontinental Hotel every New Year has gotten a Spanish makeover.
Miami.com is reporting the famous “Big Orange” sign has a new name and is now being referred to as “La Gran Naranja,” which translates to—drum roll—“Big Orange” in Spanish.
According to the tourism site, the name change was made to kick off Viva Florida 500, a three-year Spanish heritage campaign beginning Jan. 1, 2013. It will also commemorate Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon bringing the orange to Florida in 1513.
“In 2013, Florida will reach a significant milestone, the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon's arrival on Florida’s east coast,” said the campaign’s site, which is part of the Florida Department of State.
“What makes this anniversary so unique is that Ponce de Leon’s convoy of explorers was the first group of Europeans to document such a landing and give a name to Florida—La Florida. There were also the first recorded Europeans to explore any part of what’s now the continental United States of America.”
The campaign site further says Florida’s history dates back to more than 12,000 years to American Indians, recognized as the original pioneers. However, Spain’s claim in 1513 prompted a new era of several nationalities arriving to the U.S. In addition, the legacy of Spanish Florida was further established by Pedro Menendez, founder of St. Augustine in 1565.
However, the language change for Florida’s New Year symbol has already sparked outrage.
On Miami.com, several Facebook users left comments saying they were furious with the name change.
“You gotta be kidding me,” commented one. “The last time I checked, English is still the national language and use to be the ‘go-to’ language of South Florida until the PC mindset set in when all official documents must be in three languages. What a joke.”
According American Fact Finder, about 4.4 million Latinos called the state of Florida home in 2011, which is 23 percent of the state’s total population. Nearly 1.7 million Latinos live in Miami-Dade County alone. They make up 65% percent of the county’s total population. About 3.7 million Florida residents speak Spanish at home.