The day began with a somber talk about insurance rates and ended with 130 state legislators and Monroe County VIPs blowing Conch shells on the steps of the old capitol building in Tallahassee.
The world record setting feat capped a party that treated an estimated 400 guests to conch salad, stone crab chowder, fried fish, conch fritters, Key West pink shrimp – all washed down with mojitos, Key West Ale, Big Pecker Wines, and Key Limeade.
Florida Keys Day was conceived last year by Holly Merrill Raschein to bring the issues facing Monroe County to the attention of the State Legislature. Raschein is State Representative Ron Saunders Senior Aide and a member of the Leadership Monroe County (LMC) class that hatched the project.
Earlier that morning a 30-passenger jet lifted off the runway at the Marathon Airport and newly designated lobbyists were given their legislative assignments by County Commissioner Heather Carruthers.
The plane included businesspeople and leaders like GLEE President Allison Higgins, Marathon Chamber of Commerce President Jo Ann Wagner, School Board member Andy Griffiths, former County Commissioner David Rice, United Way President Margie Smith and FKAA Executive Director Jim Reynolds.
As members of the FIRM delegation traveling to Tallahassee, their mission was to convince state officials to refrain from deregulating the insurance companies.
Carruthers said without strict guidelines, insurance companies would be free to unveil new windstorm/flood premiums and deductibles with little regard to the strict Monroe County building codes or past data related to tropical storms.
Florida Keys Days culminated in a smorgasbord of Keys fare served in the courtyard between the old and new capitol buildings. Pictured, from left: Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi, small business owner Michelle Beech, Ocean Reef representative and FKAA board member David Ritz, FKAA Executive Director Jim Reynolds, and County Commissioner Heather Carruthers.
Florida Keys Days was sponsored by numerous local businesses including Big Pecker Wines. During the celebration, County Mayor Sylvia Murphy declared BPW CEO Leeman an Honorary Conch.
Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thomas Pelham was one of the guests of honor at Florida Keys Days. Pictured with Senior Legislative Assistant Holly Merril Raschein.
Upper Keys restaurateur and Weekly columnist Bobby Stoky fed an estimated 400 people during the Florida Keys Days celebration with conch salad, fish dip, conch fritters, and stone crab chowder. Stoky’s restaurants were among the primary sponsors of the event.