Like so many people around the U.S. and the world, Florida Keys residents understand that the global coronavirus crisis means it’s safer at home right now.
But their creativity and free-spirited individuality demand expression — even under the current restricted conditions. And the island chain’s “caregivers” who rescue and rehabilitate wildlife aren’t letting COVID-19 dampen their commitment to their charges.
Luckily for Keys fans who remain sequestered in other locales, many island residents are sharing their pursuits and passions online.
Keys musicians are live-streaming concerts from their living rooms, local chefs demonstrate how to prepare their favorite recipes in Facebook Live segments, museum staffers offer virtual tours of their facilities, paddleboarders are sharing “social distancing” excursions in the Keys’ nearshore waters, and safely masked animal rehabilitators are bringing online audiences along while they care for sea turtles or wild birds.
In fact, although the island chain’s borders are temporarily closed to visitors, it’s still possible to satisfy a craving for the subtropical destination.
That’s because the Keys tourism council recently launched a social media-based “Safer@Home” initiative — to entertain and inspire during this uncertain and unsettling time, and to provide a strong virtual connection between the island chain and the people who love it.
You might enjoy nature-based and underwater activities, sway to live sets by local “trop rock” stars, savor cooking and cocktail recipes to make in your kitchen, discover Keys flavors and treats that can be delivered to your doorstep, and brighten your stay-at-home days with other appealing offerings from Keys entities.
An eye-catching logo, based on a whimsical “conch shell house” image created by Keys artist Abigail White, identifies the special “Safer@Home” posts. (It’s a particularly fitting image since the conch shell is a longstanding symbol of the island chain.)
And for even more fun, the program also features a weekly giveaway of Keys-related or locally crafted items. Each Friday starting April 24, a post will pose trivia questions — including one about a recent livestream — and the week’s winner will be chosen at random from those who respond.
If you’re the winner, you might receive a Keys goodie bag with island gifts, a tart and creamy Key lime pie (yummm!), a gift card for local merchandise or even a signed print of Abigail White’s engaging “conch shell house” image.
But that’s not the only Keys entertainment in store for social media fans and followers. A quirky internet competition, hashtagged #KeysAtHomeChallenge, is scheduled to debut May 11.
Internet challenges are typically most popular when people have more time on their hands to get creative — making them ideal as “stay-at-home” orders continue. During this challenge, entrants will be asked to post a self-made video, up to 1 minute long, recreating their favorite moments or activities in the Keys while staying safe at home. And they must identify it with the hashtag.
For example, if you’re a fan of Florida Keys fishing, you might create a video of a fishing adventure in your bathtub.
Or instead of staging a fishing scenario, you could concoct your favorite tropical drink on camera, chill in a hammock beside an inflatable palm tree, pretend to dive into an in-home aquarium, or even write a song or ditty about the Keys.
Contest information will be posted throughout the Keys’ social media outlets, and the challenge runs until May 25. After submissions are reviewed, a winner will be chosen at random.
The best part? Plans call for the winner to receive a complimentary trip to the Keys — to be enjoyed after officials determine that it’s safe for people to travel and the island chain can re-open, welcoming visitors once again.