Key West Pride events have wound down after five days packed with parties, sailing, and parades. In many of your communities, Pride festivals are just beginning — so keep your eyes open for eight-color rainbow flags in your Pride parade.
If you spot one, chances are the flag you see was part of Key West’s 1.25-mile sea-to-sea flag, unfurled on Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean 10 years ago this month. Sections of the famed flag will be carried in parades in Denver, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York.
Living on a tiny two-mile by four-mile island, we’re never lacking for another unique event. This weekend, for example, we host the Key West Africana Festival, giving visitors an opportunity to discover the Afro-Caribbean heritage of America’s southernmost island city. There are workshops on wellness and healthy living, film screenings, tours of meaningful African and Cuban sites and museums, and presentations by award-winning authors, media commentators and our state Senator Dwight Bullard.
Then, June 22, be sure to bring out your finest fairy and tropical attire and gather under the stars for the seventh annual Midsummer’s Night Dream & Spectacle. This magical evening unfolds in, and benefits, the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden. Bring lots of fairy dust, glitter, wings and halos … and prepare for an unforgettable experience.
“Midsummer’s Night celebrates the summer solstice,” says event creator Michael Shields. “It’s a time when the veil between this world and the next is thin, and powerful forces are abroad. On Midsummer’s, legends hold that one can gain the powers of a bard — or on the downside, end up utterly mad, demented, or whisked away by spirit faeries. Romances flourish, affairs are begun, mystery and mischief abound. It all begins with a dream.”
Enjoy the creations of local musicians, poets, painters and sculptors; marvel at aerial artistry, fire dancing, theatrical antics and storytellers; and vie for the titles of festival King and Queen. Where else can you join fairies, stars, and starlets on a tropical island under the full moon while sipping tropical beverages and tasting local foods? No glitter is too bright, no wings too large (just be careful when flying through the forest!).
Though the Keys have designated themselves the independent Conch Republic, we do acknowledge July 4 as Independence Day for those who live in the “neighboring” United States. This year, my friend and noted writer David Sloan adds to the holiday festivities by staging the first Key Lime Festival.
David penned “The Ultimate Key Lime Pie Cookbook,” celebrating the popularity of the tart, creamy dessert identified with the Florida Keys. Important note: if you have ever been served green key lime pie, you were cheated. Our tasty Key lime pie is yellow and often nestled on crisp graham cracker crumbs toasted in real butter. Some serve it with chopped nuts in the crust, although my favorite sits atop crushed chocolate wafers, drenched in butter and browned just before the sweet yellow curd is ladled and topped with unsweetened whipped cream. I’m getting carried away …
Join David and his team July 4 at the Key Lime Piestravaganza in front of Key West’s Old City Hall as they attempt to make the world’s largest Key lime pie — expected to be bigger than 15 feet in diameter. You can even savor a slice of the historic pie for one buck, which benefits the Key West Firehouse Museum. It doesn’t get much better than this!
I’ll tell you more about our July 4 celebrations next time. Right now, I need to find a slice of tangy Key lime pie and get ready for tonight’s NBA game.