Cudjoe Key, Florida (high 90, low 80)
We’ve had a very busy few days between parades, hazmat team, snorkeling, toilet paper bombs at the battle for the Conch Republic.
The annual Key West celebration continued all week long and we celebrated right along with the rest of the “Conchs.” (pronounced conks) If you missed my post about when Key West succeeded from the Union, you can read it HERE.
Thursday night was the big parade. Our favorite band, Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band was going to be playing at Schooner Wharf after the parade. Howie was going to be singing on a float on the “worlds longest parade” which ran from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.
We got down to Key West early so that we could get a parking place.
It was hot, so the plan was to have dinner at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, which is air conditioned. There are a lot of fun open air restaurants but we were looking for cool. They are nice for people watching though.
Afterwards, we still had time to kill so we walked down Duval and into an art gallery where we discovered the work of Terry Gilecki and his paintings of Coi fish. Take a minute and click on this link and see his amazing work. HERE
Anytime you’re on Duval Street, you will see interesting things.
Only in Key West will you see an Ostrich riding a bicycle and playing a boom box.
It wasn’t time for the parade to start yet so we went into “The Bull” for a quick drink and to watch a group that was playing. They put on a great show. They played the old style 60’s girl group music, like It’s My Party, Baby Love and others we remembered from years ago.
This was a sign behind the bar. I had to blur out one word.
Back outside and on Duval crowds started to line up on both sides of the street waiting for the parade.
This was an interesting couple. He had a big camera and she was knitting. I thought this was the oddest thing yet!
Soon, we started hearing Howie singing “Magic in Key West” and “Living on Key West Time,” so we knew the parade had started. By this time it was getting dark, so my pictures didn’t turn out very well and I was having too much fun to worry much about them.
These guys had some sort of bubble making thing that supplied huge bubbles which were very cool.
The music brought everyone to life and we were all having a good time. The streets were lined with people snapping pictures, but I decided we needed to join the parade, so Al reluctantly followed me and we jumped right in behind Howie and his pirate entourage. I’ll bet there are some pictures of us walking in the parade like we belonged!
Local legend Mel Fisher was in the parade in spirit. He was the one who discovered the wreck of the Atocha in the waters right offshore. He searched for that wreck for many years and his motto was “today’s the day.” He lost family members in the search, but he finally struck gold (literally) on July 20, 1985 to the tune of some $450 million dollars. We actually met Mel in Key West the very next year in front of his museum. I need to dig up the picture I took of him with Al and our friend Wally.
Mel has since passed away, but no parade in Key West would be complete without Mel, so he was included. That’s him in the middle. :) Those chains around his neck in the picture were real gold. He walked around town with huge gold chains that were found on the wreck.
We had been walking behind these people and didn’t know who the guy in the middle was until we got in front of them. We recognized ole Mel right away!
Key West dignitaries, I guess?
The music got everyone fired up, including us!
This next picture of the Whistle bar, below that was the Bull where we watched the girl singers. On top, where the lights are is the Garden of Eden, which is a clothing optional bar.
The parade ended at the Schooner Wharf bar where the rest of Howie’s band was waiting for him. Al decided that maybe we should go up ahead and see if we could get a place to sit, so we left the parade and buzzed over to the bar. There weren’t many seats but we found a nice place on the top deck overlooking the harbor with a wonderful ocean breeze! We couldn’t really see the band, but we heard them and it was nice and cool.
It was a really fun night, and we didn’t leave until after 10pm (a record for us). Before we left Key West, we got a disturbing e-mail from the general manager at Venture Out (where our lot is). It appears we had a hazmat issue at the RV park. Things were under control, but it wasn’t the kind of e-mail you want to receive.
More about that next time.