FLORIDA KEYS — Get ready to “Ooh” and “Aah” as the waters surrounding the Florida Keys reflect bursts of color during the 2010 Independence Day celebrations along the 120-mile chain of islands.
Families can gather for beachside fun as events throughout the Keys coincide with spectacular fireworks shows.
Blackwater Sound provides the perfect nighttime mirrorlike surface to make the annual fireworks display seem like a 3-D viewing experience designed to dazzle. The show is to take place on the bayfront in Key Largo at 9 p.m. Sunday, July 4. The best seating can be found at Sundowners and Senior Frijoles restaurants, Caribbean Club and Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort, all located around mile marker (MM) 104 bayside. Reservations are suggested because seating is limited. For more information, visit www.keylargofireworks.com.
The “Upper Keys Reporter” is to sponsor its 35th annual July 4 parade, this year themed “Coral Reef Paradise.” The parade gets rolling at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at Anthony’s Clothing Store, MM 98.2 on the center median of U.S. Highway 1 in Key Largo. Entrants must assemble in the parking lot between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
Awards will be presented for floats and entries in categories including best emergency vehicle, best musical, most original, most beautiful, best portrayal of the theme, best nonprofit and best business parade entrants. For more details, call 305-852-3216 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before the parade, a “Stay Ahead Of The Parade” 5k Run is planned and open to the public. Sponsored by the “Upper Keys Reporter,” Upper Keys YMCA and Centennial Bank, the race is to benefit summer camp scholarships for junior marine biology and literacy initiatives. The race is expected to start at 9:45 a.m. Participants can pre-register — packets are available at the YMCA office and Key Largo branch of Centennial Bank — or enter during the final registration 8:30-9:30 a.m. on race day. For more information, contact Joyia Montanez at 305-896-4956.
Founders Park, MM 87 on Plantation Key, is the site of “Spirit of Islamorada,” an old-fashioned annual Fourth of July celebration hosted by the Village of Islamorada and the Upper Keys Rotary Club. Entertainment and activities for kids, teens, parents and dogs highlight the event from 6 to 9:30 p.m. A fireworks show follows.
Attractions include contests for best apple pie, potato salad and a Nathan’s hot dog eating contest, in addition to other food, refreshments and beer. Event proceeds benefit local scholarship funds, Boy Scouts and athletic programs.
All Islamorada residents and visitors are welcome to attend. Guests staying at participating resorts are to receive admission-free wristbands to enter the event at 6 p.m. A $10 admission fee applies for nonresidents who are not staying at a participating hotel.
For more information, visit Spirit of Islamorada on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-of-Islamorada-2010-Fireworks-at-Founders-Park/115710398653).
In Marathon, known as the Keys’ prime boating destination, a patriotic parade is slated to start at 10:30 a.m. from Marathon High School on Sombrero Beach Road (MM 50 oceanside). The parade route leads to Sombrero Beach where a picnic and celebration featuring food, drink, kids’ crafts and entertainment precede the night’s fireworks display. For more information, call the Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 305-743-5417.
The Big Pine & Lower Keys Rotary Club’s annual 4th of July fireworks are to take place at Sugarloaf Airport, MM 17 bayside on Sugarloaf Key, adjacent to the quirky Bat Tower. Live music headlined by Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers, food and ice-cold beverages are to be accompanied by games and activities for both adults and kids. A “longer and larger” fireworks show is set to go off at nightfall, or about 9 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. Admission is free, but no coolers, pets or personal fireworks will be allowed. For more information, call Cece 305-766-8467.
Key West’s 26th annual July 4 picnic to benefit Hospice of the Florida Keys and the Visiting Nurse Association is to take place at the luxurious Casa Marina Resort & Beach Club, located at 1500 Reynolds St. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The celebration is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. with fireworks over the Atlantic starting at 9 p.m., courtesy of the Key West Rotary Club.
The traditional buffet offers hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings for $25 per adult, $10 per child ages 3 to 12 and free for children younger than 3. General admission (no meal) tickets are $10. For an elegant alternative, attendees can choose reserved beachfront seats with first-class service and a lavish buffet. Tickets for the “best seats on the beach” section are $100 per person.
Free watermelon, popcorn and cold drinks, live music, a silent auction and lots of children’s games round out the fun-filled family festivities. For information about the VNA/Hospice benefit picnic at the Casa Marina, call 305-294-8812 or visit www.hospicevna.com.
A 5k Run/Walk co-sponsored by Sheraton Suites Key West and Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys, also is set for July 4 at 7:30 a.m. The energetic event starts and ends at Smathers Beach, where participants and spectators can enjoy the scenic waterfront along with raffles, food and refreshments. An awards ceremony is to be held at the Sheraton. Race registration is open 5-7 p.m. Saturday, July 3, or starting at 6:30 a.m. July 4. Fee is $25 in advance or $30 on race day. Members of the military and children age 15 and under save $5 off registration. For information, call Barbara at 305-240-0727.
For more information about events and lodging throughout the Florida Keys, visit the official website of the Florida Keys & Key West at www.fla-keys.com.