At 4 pm Sunday afternoon, after the famed annual power boat races were completed, Chris Case rocked the parking lot at Keys Fisheries in Marathon.
Patches of green covered the radar all day on The Weather Channel, but Chris Burns, the brains behind the first ever “Crustacean Vacation” at Keys Fisheries in Marathon said “the show had to go on.”
“We’ve been through hurricanes here in the Keys. A little rain couldn’t stop this,” Burns explained as Case descended from the stage and John Solinksi and Red Dog, a popular act at Irish Kevin’s in Key West began to rock the crowd.
Several months ago, Burns approached his boss, Gary Graves, and told him he was thinking of doing a charitable event.
After three years in the Middle Keys, Burns noticed all the workers in the commercial fishing, stone crab and food service industry desperately needed a break of their own after the harried and zany pace of stone crab and tourist season.
“I asked Gary what his favorite charities were and he suggested I do a benefit for KAIR because they serve residents county wide,” Burns said.
“KAIR helps all people and there are a lot of people out there right now who need help,” Graves said of his recommendation.
So, he set to planning a fun yet charitable event to benefit the local food bank.
Marge Roberts, KAIR director, credits the event’s success to Burns and Graves’ financial support.
“We’ve become known as the place to go,” Roberts said of the increased traffic her organization’s seen in these current economic times. “We’re learning how to respond to each individual’s needs. There are people all across the board losing their jobs. The number of people using our services has tripled in the past year.”
Jon Strauss said he and his friends had been at the event since it began at noon, even in spite of the rain.
“We were going to go out on the boat, but we came here instead,” Strauss explained. “We’re having a great time!”
Cynthia Morrill was with her husband, John, at the Crustacean Vacation. Besides the fact that he sits on Board of Directors for the food bank, Morrill said she was happy to be at the event because giving back is so important.
As she riffled through the cupboards aboard her sailboat, looking for rice and non-perishable goods to bring to the event, she turned to her husband and said, “You know, I just love giving. It’s good for the soul.”
Donations of perishable items were the only admission to the all day event that included numerous live bands, several area vendors with jewelry, purses and novelty items and plenty of beer and libations.
Graves’ wife, Kathy, said she never doubted whether or not the show would go on.
“There are all locals here today. Keys’ residents are like cats. They always land on their feet. If there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Burns said even if increment weather may have kept some people away, “KAIR made out with a ton of food, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Kristin Hall, Danny Price, Daena Crossman and Jon Strauss were among the revelers at the Crustacean Vacation Sunday afternoon at Keys Fisheries.
Cynthia and John Morrill chatted with Marathon City Manager Clyde Burnett during the benefit for KAIR.
After the rain and passed and the sun beat down on the parking lot at Keys Fisheries Sunday afternoon, Maria Luther and popular Marathon musician Christian welcomed visitors at the gate.
KAIR board member Charlotte Quinn manned the soda and water truck. Her line wasn’t nearly as long as the one for beer at Sunday’s event.
John Solinski and Red Dog, a popular act at Irish Kevins in Key West, was one of many bands that brought the crowds to their feet Sunday afternoon at the Crustacean Vacation at Keys Fisheries.