Ocean Drive looks back on the beginnings of the star-studded fundraiser Irie Weekend, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this year.
The 2007 Cameo marquee.
One conversation is all it took for two people—one a world renowned DJ, the other a middle-school student—to inspire each other. As he looks back on that exchange, Ian Grocher, better known as the Miami Heat’s resident DJ Irie, remembers the young boy well. “[This kid] said to me, ‘I know I have to better myself now, for you, for my parents, and mostly for myself, because I know I can be like you one day.’”
Those words led Irie to launch his namesake weekend celebration, a two-day fundraiser brimming with activities and hot-ticket events, in June 2005. “It was a simpler time,” says Irie, “I’m not even sure it would be fair for us to call it a whole weekend.”
What started as another excuse for Miami to party eventually grew into a community cause, with all proceeds from the event benefiting the Irie Foundation, created in 2011 to empower South Florida at-risk youth through mentorship programs, cultural experiences, and scholarship opportunities.
Twelve years later, Irie Weekend has undergone a major transformation. Now a star-studded festival that includes concerts, a golf tournament, food, fashion, and more (taking place this year June 22 through 25), the current incarnation allows for larger crowds, additional events, and most importantly, more money raised.
Still, Irie’s favorite events continue to be the children’s golf clinic and the celebrity golf tournament, which in years past has seen Jamie Foxx and Shaquille O’Neal tee off. It also gives Irie a break from the turntables to spend one-on-one time with attendees. Says the DJ, “This weekend is all about a personal connection for me. I get to connect with everyone, both the kids and the guests, and get to hear their different perspectives and experiences.” The 12th annual Irie Weekend takes place June 22–25.