HINDSIGHT 2020: KEY WEST REFLECTS ON A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER

Editor’s note: The coronavirus pandemic brought some of the first cases to the Florida Keys in March and changed our island life in ways no one could have imagined. 

A checkpoint kept visitors away and the virus at bay, but affected jobs, business, income and mental health.

Policies were changed to address the increasing spread. Meetings and fundraisers were moved online, and we all became experts at Zoom, Google Meet and using our webcams as mirrors before “joining” a virtual event.

The Keys reopened to visitors in June and workers returned to jobs in hotels, bars, restaurants and retail stores, and aboard dive, snorkel and fishing boats. Each week, in our Hindsight 2020 feature, the Key West Weekly will highlight locals’ reflections on a year of unprecedented changes and challenges

MARK HEDDEN & NAN KLINGENER

Describe your 2020 in 3 words: 

Mark: (Expletive deleted)

Nan: Slow – anxious – surprising

What canceled activity or event did you miss the most?

Mark:  Poker with my so-called friends. We’ve been playing online, but damn I miss sitting at a table with those people. Even that guy Haven.

Nan: They haven’t even happened yet (as of this writing), but the cancellations of the Holiday Parade and the Literary Seminar are both heartbreakers.

What Netflix or other TV/movie programming did you discover or rediscover during the pandemic? 

Mark: Ted Lasso on Apple+: An American football coach goes to England to coach a football (soccer) team. Hilarity ensues. I generally don’t go in for warm-hearted stuff, but this show made me feel better about humanity, which takes some doing.

Nan: I’ve been watching bicycle racing for 25 years (thanks, Mark!) and took up watching Premier League football a few years ago, but this year both have been lifesavers.

Did you have COVID?

Mark: Not that I know of.

Nan: Not that I know of.

What’s your pandemic pet peeve? 

Mark: Loud, amateur epidemiologists.

Nan: People whining about missing things (like, uh, maybe the Holiday Parade and the Literary Seminar) when so many people are suffering the medical and economic impacts of this thing.

What’s one good thing that came out of this period for you? 

Mark: Lots of home improvement, I guess.

Nan: Oddly, I feel closer than ever to my colleagues on the mainland — perhaps because while I’ve always been a remote worker, now we’re all in the same boat.

Describe your hopes for 2021 in 3 words: 

Mark: Less (Expletive deleted)

Nan: Kind, thoughtful renaissance

Captain Carla Bellenger, owner of Key West EcoTours, is hoping to see the nation unified in 2021. CONTRIBUTED

CAPTAIN CARLA BELLENGER

Describe your 2020 in 3 words:  Disheartening. Challenging. Loss.

What canceled activity or event did you miss the most? The locals’ walking parade

What Netflix or other TV/movie programming did you discover or rediscover during the pandemic? “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Did you have COVID? No.

What’s your pandemic pet peeve? My biggest pandemic pet peeve is the increasing animosity and division of our Florida Keys community during this COVID-19 crisis.

What’s one good thing that came out of this period for you? The highlight of my 2020 was being able to spend unexpected, extra time with my son.

Describe your hopes for 2021 in 3 words: Unifying our country.

Photographer Larry Blackburn has plenty of pandemic pet peeves, but found the positive by falling in love with his wife all over again during their time together. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

LARRY BLACKBURN

Describe your 2020 in 3 words: Where’s the Charmin??!!??!!

What canceled activity or event did you miss the most? Key West Pride.

What Netflix or other TV/movie programming did you discover or rediscover during the pandemic? “Sons of Anarchy”— again. It doesn’t get any better than bikers and Shakespeare.

Did you have COVID? Fortunately, no

What’s your pandemic pet peeve? Ignorant and inconsiderate people who did not take the virus seriously and refuse to this day to do anything to stop or control the spread. They think the entire thing is a hoax and masks are worthless. Frivolous lawsuits to open the Keys. Money and profit over locals’ safety. Putting the service industry and first responders at risk. Blaming the city and county leaders for everything, when, at the end of the day, it is people who forced them to take the action that they did. No leadership at the state and federal levels.

What’s one good thing that came out of this period for you? I fell in love with my wife all over again!Describe your hopes for 2021 in 3 words: Joe Biden Jr.

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