Key West

Books
7:54 am
Fri November 21, 2014

The Sally J. Freedman Reality Tour With Judy Blume

Judy in Miami Beach in the late 1940s
Copyright by Judy Blume and used only with her written permission. Not to be further reproduced or distributed except with her permission.

When I was in elementary school, I wrote an "autobiography" called "I Want to Be Like Judy." It had a pink construction paper cover and came in second in the school library contest. I never imagined that  30-something years later, Judy would say to me, "Let's take a selfie!" (See our virtual tour - link below.) I loved all her books, but "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself" was one of my very favorites. I read it over and over. Ten times? Fifteen?  

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Key West
7:47 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Mallory Square Moves Its Act To Before Sunset

Performers like tightrope walker Will Soto have been drawing crowds for decades to Mallory Square for sunset. Now the performers and artists will be able to set up during the day when cruise ships call in Key West.
Credit Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Service

If Sunset Celebration takes place all day long, will anybody show up?

That's the question that a group of artists and performers will pose under a new five-year contract that allows them to set up an "artisan fair" at Mallory Square starting at 10 a.m. on days when cruise ships call on Key West.

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Environment
7:28 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Miles Off Key West Roams The Loneliest American Crocodile

Cletus, the sole American Crocodile to live at Dry Tortugas National Park.
Credit Mark Hedden

You shouldn’t name a crocodile or ascribe it human emotions. It’s not a pet. It’s a wild and primitive creature with a lot of very sharp teeth and a crazy powerful jaw.

But that didn’t stop anyone from naming the sole crocodile living at Dry Tortugas National Park.

Cletus. That's what most people on the park staff call the croc. A few call him Carlos. No one remembers why.

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Key West
1:45 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

After The Party's Over, Fantasy Fest Concerns Continue

Many Key Westers are concerned that Fantasy Fest is becoming more of a gathering for exhibitionists and voyeurs, and less of a creative costume party.
Credit Mark Hedden

Weeks after the "Fat Lady Sings" tea dance that marks the official end of Fantasy Fest, Key Westers are meeting to talk about how to change the annual event to limit raunchy behavior and increase creative costuming.

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Election 2014
9:20 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Winning In Keys: School Tax, Building Height Raise

Since the half-cent sales tax was first approved 20 years ago Monroe County has rebuilt most of its schools including Horace O'Bryant Middle School in Key West.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Voters in the Florida Keys Tuesday approved extending a half-cent sales tax for schools for another 10 years. The tax, expected to raise $157 million over the decade, will be used to build and refurbish schools and for technology upgrades.

Voter turnout was 56 percent, according to the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Office.

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Locals And Visitors
5:56 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Is Key West's Fantasy Fest Too Raunchy?

Michael Blades and his wife Kathy Kilroy used to work on elaborate floats for Fantasy Fest's big parade. Now they're putting their efforts into newer events that are not part of the official festival roster, like the Zombie Bike Ride.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Fantasy Fest started 35 years ago as a way to bring visitors to Key West during what had been the slowest time of the year. But locals have always been a big part of it -- the 10 days of street fairs and costume parties, and the culminating parade, for which 60,000 crowd the island's downtown.

"I was on a float for, like, 19 straight years," says Key Wester Michael Blades. He and his friends built elaborate parade entries and won the grand prize three times. But they're not entering this year.

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Food
12:17 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Key West Food Trucks Get New Rules Proposal

When White Street Station opened for business the city's code enforcers cited the business -- but the case was dismissed because the city had no rules regulating food trucks.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

When two new eateries on wheels opened in Key West this year, the city's code enforcement officers cited them, saying they had not received approval to operate in the historic district known as Old Town.

But a magistrate dismissed those cases, because the city didn't have any rules that govern food trucks.

That could change soon, as a 16-page proposed ordinance gets its first airing this week in front of the city's Planning Commission. The commission will make a recommendation to the city commission, which must approve any new rules before they take effect.

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News
12:52 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Key West Seeks Site For Homeless Shelter

A relatively new but now leading candidate for the site of a homeless shelter in Key West is the city-owned transit center on Palm Avenue.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

On a three-by-five-mile island, finding a site for a homeless shelter is no easy feat.

Almost 700 people in the Keys are homeless, according to the most recent count. Key West is the island chain's largest city and has the largest homeless population.

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Politics
12:40 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Congressional Candidates Trade Jabs In Key West

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, left, traded sharp words with his Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo, right, at Monday's debate in Key West.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The contest for Florida’s 26th congressional district is close, and the race is getting national attention. But when Democratic incumbent Congressman Joe Garcia debated Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo Monday, it was a small town affair. 

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo disagree on a lot of issues. And they fundamentally disagree on whether the public should invest in government – or cut it back. But their sharpest words at Monday’s debate were over character.

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Keys Blog
12:45 am
Wed September 24, 2014

For Whom The Air Cools: Ernest Hemingway's Key West Home To Get AC

Soon-to-be-cool cat: The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West has been approved for air conditioning, 163 years after it was built. The museum's famous cats still have to live outside.
Credit Monroe County Tourist Development Council

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is already hugely popular with visitors -- but soon they'll be able to stroll through the writer's Key West home in more comfort, especially during the sweltering subtropical summer.

The house, built in 1851, is now set to have air conditioning installed for the first time. At the moment, stand-up fans offer the only relief.

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Arts
3:22 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Exhibit Celebrates Key West Hand Print Fabrics

Suzie dePoo's colorful fabrics for Key West Hand Print caught the eye of Lilly Pulitzer, whose resort wear was popular with socialites.
Credit Key West Art & Historical Society

In 1961, two New Yorkers who had worked in the theater moved to Key West and opened a screenprint fabric shop.

In short order they met two women who assured their success. One was Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach socialite who had started selling brightly colored garments a few years before. The other was a Key West resident named Agnez Zuzek dePoo, better known as Suzie.

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Privacy
3:35 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Key West Official Worried About Camera Drones During Fantasy Fest

Using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to capture images could soon be regulated in Key West.
Credit Vivid Aerial Media

While the FAA wrestles with regulating the use of camera-equipped drones, Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley says the Southernmost City has a special reason to act fast: Fantasy Fest.

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Swimming
6:51 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Diana Nyad Celebrates Historic Swim One Year Later

Diana Nyad says she was in a physical, mental and emotional daze as she stepped ashore in Key West, one year ago on Labor Day.
Credit Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

    

One year after her historic swim from Cuba to Key West, Diana Nyad is returning to both islands to celebrate.

When Nyad reached the beach in Key West last year, she says she was in a physical, mental and emotional daze. She didn't even have a chance to thank her team.

"I was just whisked off," Nyad said. "This is my chance, Monday in that very place, to say [thank you] to them directly, and cry with them."

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Keys Election Results
9:27 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Cates Wins Fourth Term As Key West Mayor

Key West Mayor Craig Cates is congratulated Tuesday night after he won re-election for a fourth term.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West Mayor Craig Cates won a fourth and final term as mayor of the southernmost city Tuesday, defeating Margaret Romero for a third time and taking 53 percent of the votes in the three-person race. Romero won 44 percent while perennial candidate Sloan Bashinsky took just over 2 percent.

"I'm just a happy camper right now," Cates said. "Everybody that came out and supported me, four elections in a row -- it's an overwhelming feeling."

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News
6:02 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Same-Sex Couples Still Will Not Marry In The Keys

Plaintiffs Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones.
Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Wedding bells are not ringing yet for same-sex couples in Monroe County.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones had hoped to apply for a marriage license on Tuesday after last week Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled in their favor seeking the right to marry. But State Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed Garcia’s decision, automatically putting the process on hold.

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