Key West

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

Writing contests offer all kinds of rewards,  but this one may be unique: a residency in Key West, and the opportunity to write in Ernest Hemingway's studio.

The first Florida Keys Flash Fiction contest invites writers to submit a work of 500 words or fewer between now and March 31. The winner will be selected by a representative of the Key West Literary Seminar.

Meredith Rizzo / NPR

  A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a tattoo parlor owner and against the city of Key West's attempt to block a new tattoo business from opening in the city's historic district.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that tattoos and tattooing are artistic expression, protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And it rejected the city's arguments that tattoo parlors could hurt the "character and fabric" of the Old Town area and thus hurt tourism.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

Lots of people have trouble figuring out what to do on New Year's Eve every year. Not Gary Marion of Key West — better known to the wider world as the drag queen Sushi.

"On New Year's Eve, I sit in a big, red, giant high heel and I get descended at the stroke of midnight," she says. "It will be my 19th year in the shoe."

Like most years, Sushi is making an elaborate outfit for herself for the big night. Unlike most years, she's also creating outfits for a flower girl, bridesmaids and the "ordained drag queen minister" who will be marrying Sushi and her fiance, Jeff Kusin.

City of Key West

The city of Key West took ownership of 32 acres on the island's western shore back in 2002.

The property had been used by the Navy since World War II as a submarine base and for other kinds of training. But in a round of downsizing, the land was given to the city.

For the last decade, Key West has been drawing up plans and waiting on environmental clean-up of the property.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

An international, but temporary, art installation is taking shape on the shore of Key West.

The International Sand Art competition winds up Saturday, with judging scheduled for the afternoon.

Carol Tedesco / Key West Art & Historical Society

Key West's lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1969. But it recently got a thorough restoration, from the railings around the top to the paint on the sides.

  Officials from the lighthouse's current stewards, the Key West Art & Historical Society, weren't sure what to expect when they hired a restoration firm that specializes in old lighthouses. They thought maybe the firm would set up a giant scaffold around the 86-foot tower.

Spree Expeditions / PRNewsFoto

Fifteen years ago, when Frank Wasson bought the motor vessel Spree, the boat was based in Texas and mostly ran dive charters to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. But he had another destination in mind.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Three women have been named to the state Women's Hall of Fame — and two of them are from South Florida.

Helen Aguirre Ferré of Miami Shores is a journalist and communications consultant. Elmira Leto of Key West is the founder of Samuel's House, a nonprofit that provides shelter and services to women and children. The third woman named is Carol Jenkins Barnett, president of Publix Supermarket Charities in Lakeland.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Two days before the island's biggest parade of the year takes to Duval Street, a much, much smaller procession made its way down Duval Street Thursday evening.

Or maybe that should be "Duval Street."

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  When you move to Key West, you're going to encounter Fantasy Fest. That's what happened when I moved to the island 24 years ago.

The big finish is the Saturday night parade. That first year, I figured out that you're part of this thing. It's kind of weird if you show up and you're not in some kind of costume.

At my first parade, I remember being so impressed by the Caribbean dancers with their shiny costumes and giant, elaborate wings. They were so graceful and had such incredible stamina — and the junkanoo beat was infectious.

Ida Woodward Barron Collection / Monroe County Public Library

  In Key West, stories about carousing in bars can be legendary. Now they will be preserved as history.

The Key West Art & Historical Society is planning an exhibit to open Nov. 20 called Bars, Brews & Blues: A History of Carousing in Key West

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The annual Zombie Bike Ride took over Key West Sunday afternoon, with thousands of the undead riding the island's Atlantic shore at sunset.  

The ride started with a few hundred people in 2009; it has grown each year and now thousands take part.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  When Richard Payne was campaigning for the Key West City Commission over the last few months, he kept hearing about one issue: affordable housing. It didn't surprise him.

"I have four kids. Three of them don't live here, and that's because they couldn't afford to buy a home here and raise their family here. So basically, they've moved away," said Payne, who won a commission seat earlier this month.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Voters in Key West chose three new city commissioners this week, rejecting one incumbent and choosing two newcomers for open seats.

Richard Payne, a retired Monroe County circuit judge, defeated Tony Yaniz by an almost 2-1 margin. Yaniz had served one four-year term on the City Commission.

Payne said he would focus on keeping down property taxes and oppose paying for consultants and surveys to find out what citizens want.  

Jeffrey Cardenas/Yanela Piñeiro

  The photo exhibit "Cómo lo vemos a Usted (y cómo nos ven)" was already under way when Cuba and the United States announced last December that the two countries would resume diplomatic relations.

The show -- in English, "How We See You (And How You See Us)"  — opened nine days after that historic announcement, showing at National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. On Thursday, Oct. 1, it opens for its first showing in the U.S., at The Studios of Key West.