BIG PINE KEY, Florida Keys -- The Florida Keys’ bicentennial was celebrated Monday evening during a 200th “birthday party” featuring the creation of what is believed to be the world’s largest Key lime pie.
The once-in-a-lifetime festivities saluted the 200th anniversary of the Florida Territorial Legislature’s establishment of Monroe County, which encompasses the entire Keys island chain, on July 3, 1823.
Exactly 200 years later, the preparation of the Key lime pie — measuring a whopping 13.14 feet in diameter — highlighted Monday night’s patriotic bicentennial gathering at Big Pine Community Park, located beside the Gulf of Mexico in the Lower Keys.
Key West chefs Kermit Carpenter and Paul Menta spearheaded creation of the pie, a gargantuan version of the Keys’ signature dessert, and spread the creamy filling over a traditional graham-cracker crust.
“In order to make a really good Key lime pie, you must have the perfect graham cracker crust; you must surround it and fill it with condensed milk and the juice of fresh Key limes,” said Monroe County Commissioner Michelle Lincoln.
According to Lincoln, the giant pie required more than 16 gallons of Key lime juice, almost 100 gallons of sweetened condensed milk and some 125 pounds of graham crackers.
After its diameter was measured and confirmed, officials served the pie to attendees and intend to have it recognized as the world’s largest.
Key lime pie has long been identified with the Keys island chain and its heritage. Believed to have originated in Key West in the late 1800s, it was designated Florida's official pie in 2006 by the state legislature.
Presented by the county and the Rotary Club of the Lower Keys, the bicentennial celebration also featured live music, games for kids, and a laser light show and fireworks extravaganza.
Previous “Keys 200” events have included a large-scale concert in Key West and a sunset commemoration on Marathon’s restored Old Seven Mile Bridge.
More information: fla-keys.com/keys200
Chefs Paul Menta, front right and David Sloan, back right, put finishing touches on a gargantuan Key lime pie created for a 200th Florida Keys birthday celebration. Photos: Andy Newman
A measuring stick confirms the diameter of a gargantuan Key lime pie created for a 200th Florida Keys birthday celebration Monday.
From left to right, Monroe County Commissioners Jim Scholl and Michelle Lincoln, along with Florida Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez, serve Key lime pie to attendees at a 200th Florida Keys birthday celebration Monday.