FLORIDA KEYS — Independence Day celebrations throughout the 125-mile-long Florida Keys island chain salute the United States’ freedom — and the quirky independent spirit of the Keys — with local parades, picnics and parties topped off by fireworks displays. Scheduled July 4 events include:
The Key Lime Festival features culinary and libation adventures Thursday through Monday, July 1-5, saluting the tiny fruit that inspired Key lime pie, the Florida Keys’ signature dessert. The mouthwatering World Key Lime Pie Eating Championship, the festival highlight, kicks off at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, 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. Visit keylimefestival.com.
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 where White Street meets Atlantic Avenue, fireworks are to begin at 9 p.m.
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 choose to celebrate the Fourth of July before the fireworks at a private VIP sit-down catered dinner on the pier, also with proceeds to benefit the scholarship fund. For information, visit keywestrotary.com or contact Christie Martin at 305-304-5181.
Big Pine & the Lower Keys
The Lower Keys Rotary Club is to host Independence Day festivities starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, 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 at about 9 p.m. Admission is free, but no coolers, pets or personal fireworks are allowed. Visit facebook.com/LowerKeysRotary or call 303-501-0233.
In family-oriented 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. As well as spectators on land, hundreds of boaters traditionally line up for colorful on-the-water views of the fiery dazzlers.
Families can gather Sunday, July 4, for a full day of beachside activities beginning with a patriotic parade at 10:30 a.m., following 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 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 6 to 10 p.m., Sunday July 4. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at dark.
Food is to be available for purchase from vendors including Chef Drew’s Island Catering, Craig’s Island Time, Green Turtle Inn Roadside BBQ, M.E.A.T. Eatery & Taproom and Polar Ice. Drinks including beer, rum punch, soda and water can be purchased as well, with proceeds to benefit the Upper Keys Rotary Foundation.
Live entertainment is to be provided by The Carousers. On-site parking will be available for a suggested donation of $10 per vehicle. No coolers or outside food are permitted, but attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Visit islamoradachamber.com or call 305-664-4503.
The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce is to host an annual July 4 parade starting at 10 a.m. Themed “Celebrating Freedom,” the parade will begin at mile marker 98.2 in front of Anthony’s Clothing Store.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., the annual bayfront Blackwater Sound fireworks celebration is to be held at Rowell’s Waterfront Park, mile marker 104.5. The dazzling display of shimmering lights is to be provided by the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Visit web.keylargochamber.org/events or call 305-451-1414 for more details.