Parades, beach parties, and on-the-water fun topped off by fireworks displays are to highlight Independence Day celebrations throughout the lower Keys.
Some activities surrounding the July 4 holiday also illustrate the island chain’s quirky independent spirit.
The Key Lime Festival offers culinary and libation adventures Thursday, June 30, through Monday, July 4, showcasing the tiny fruit that inspired Key lime pie, the Florida Keys’ signature dessert. The Key Lime Pie Eating Championship, the festival highlight, is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday, July 4, at the oceanfront Southernmost Beach Cafe at 1405 Duval St. Participants with their hands behind their backs must dive in face-first to devour an entire 9-inch Key lime pie faster than their rivals. The event is free for spectators and gates open at 12:30 p.m. Visit www.keylimefestival.com.
The Key West Mermaid Festival also is part of the fun Independence Day weekend. See our story on Page A1 for details.
Since 1976, the Rotary Club of Key West has presented the island’s annual fireworks show. Staged from the Edward B. Knight Pier overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 1800 White St., fireworks are to begin at 9 p.m. Monday, July 4.
Attendees can purchase drinks and food including burgers and hot dogs at a booth across from the pier on Atlantic Avenue, with proceeds to benefit the Rotary Club’s scholarship fund. Alternatively, attendees can celebrate before the fireworks at a catered, ticketed “Patriotic Dinner Under the Fireworks” on the pier at 7 p.m. Dinner proceeds are to benefit the Rotary scholarship fund as well. Visit www.keywestrotary.com.
Big Pine, Lower Keys
The Lower Keys Rotary Club will host Independence Day festivities starting at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 3, at Big Pine Community Park, mile marker 31. Attractions include vendors, food, beverages, games, family activities, and entertainment. Fireworks are scheduled to begin around 9 p.m. Admission is free, but coolers, pets, and personal fireworks are not allowed. Visit www.facebook.com/ LowerKeysRotary or call 303-501-0233.
In Marathon, the free-admission Sombrero Beach is the site of one of the Keys’ largest and longest fireworks displays, produced by the city of Marathon and the Rotary Club of Marathon.
Families can gather Monday, July 4, for a full day of beachside activities beginning with a 10:30 a.m. patriotic parade that follows a route from Marathon High School on Sombrero Beach Road, mile marker 50 oceanside, to Sombrero Beach. The all-day celebration includes food, cold drinks, and family entertainment. Visit www.floridakeysmarathon.com or call 305-743-5417.
The Upper Keys Rotary Club and the village of Islamorada are to co-host the Independence Day Celebration at Founders Park, mile marker 87, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, July 4. Fireworks are to begin at dark.
Food and drinks can be purchased from vendors and live entertainment also is planned for the family-friendly evening. On-site parking will be available for a suggested donation of $10 per vehicle. Proceeds benefit the Upper Keys Rotary Foundation. No coolers or outside food are permitted, but attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Visit www.islamoradachamber.com or call 305-664-4503.
The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce will host an annual “Celebrating Freedom” July 4 parade 9:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m., to begin at mile marker 98.2 in front of Anthony’s Clothing Store.
At about 9:30 p.m., the bayfront Blackwater Sound fireworks celebration will be at Rowell’s Waterfront Park, mile marker 104.5. It’s by the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Visit www.web.keylargochamber.org/events or call 305-451-1414. ¦