The annual Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade, held this year on Earth Day, April 22, celebrates imagination and encourages the use of reused materials while honoring Stanley Papio, a Florida Keys pioneering folk artist whose recycled metal sculptures teem with a sense of satire, tenacity and innovation. 

The country’s first Kinetic Sculpture Race launched in Ferndale, California in 1969, igniting a craze that later grew to include national race events in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Port Townsend. Since then, other communities, including Key West, have hosted kinetic events, offering their own variation of these floats-with-moving-parts parades.

When kicking off its own parade in 2016, the Key West Art & Historical Society took the region’s laid-back attitude and eco-friendliness into account, eliminating the “race” component and adding the element of “art bikes” for the town known for its pedaling revelers. 

The project won the support of a prestigious Knight Arts Challenge grant that rewards the best and most innovative ideas in the arts, along with additional support from the Helmerich Trust, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

The Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade, filled with human-powered floats, makes its way down Duval Street on Earth Day, April 22, in Key West. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly