The Key West Business Guild on Dec. 1 celebrated the end of a successful 2021, despite the persistent pandemic and a calendar of events that only recently started filling back up.

Larry Blackburn, guild board member, Keys Weekly photographer and president of the Friends of the Key West AIDS Memorial, reminded the lunchtime audience that Dec. 1 was World AIDS Day. 

Key West for decades has marked the day of remembrance with a candlelit march from City Hall to the Ed Knight Pier at the end of White Street while volunteers read out more than 1,200 names of people lost to AIDS that appear on the city’s AIDS memorial, which was the first of its kind in the nation.

The guild also swore in its 2022 board members and handed out four awards for service to the organization and the community in general.

The 2022 board includes: Chuck Licis-Masson, president; Jacqueline Luhta, vice president; Misha McRae, secretary; Patti McLauchlin, treasurer; and board members Alan Beaubien, Jay Berelowitz, Paul Murphy, Larry Blackburn and Jenn Stefanacci Portier.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.