The Fourth of July parade in Key Largo in 2019. The parade, put on by the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, will go on this year. DOUG FINGER/Keys Weekly

Key West’s elected officials are concerned about the potential for viral spread at the annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks, but city commissioners did not move to cancel the island’s Independence Day celebration at their June 16 meeting.

Commissioners spoke with fireworks organizer Jim Olive of the Rotary Club of Key West, who pledged that his group will emphasize masks, distancing and personal responsibility through ample signage at the Key West fireworks event.

“I think this is something we have to do for our residents and the community. I’m not prepared to cancel it at this point,” Commissioner Billy Wardlow said at the meeting.

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston pointed out the “blatant disregard” visitors downtown had shown for the city’s rules and mask requirements the prior weekend. She asked the commissioners, over the next two weeks, to speak with their constituents and carefully consider “unintended consequences.

”The 45th annual Key Largo 4th of July Parade will not go on as planned due to issues with closing the road, as well as other safety concerns. The annual parade usually sees a number of floats going northward from Anthony’s Ladies Apparel, MM 98.2, median, to Laguna Avenue.  

Despite concerns about visitors’ disregard for Key West’s mask requirements, city officials on June 16 declined to cancel the city’s Fourth of July fireworks that are held in partnership with the Rotary Club of Key West. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

“There was a situation with closing the road down. The county called and said they couldn’t do it,” said Elizabeth Moscynski, Key Largo Chamber of Commerce president.

The City of Marathon has ordered the fireworks and put in the permits for the annual Fourth of July celebration at Sombrero Beach. But at the June 9 city council meeting, officials said they are still pondering whether or not to open Sombrero Beach to the public on that day depending on whether there is a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases in Marathon and the Florida Keys. If the beach is closed, the Marathon City Council said, the fireworks can still be viewed from boats and homes nearby. 

Normally, the Rotary Club of Marathon sells hot dogs, burgers and beverages at the beach. It is one of the club’s largest fundraisers of the year. Rotarian Sam Williams said he’s prepared to go ahead. The parade, organized by Rotarian Leigha Fox, is also ready to go. Parade participants should muster at 10 a.m., be ready to step off at 11 a.m., and arrive at the beach at noon. Both Williams and Fox noted that plans are subject to change.

 

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