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Key West 200th Heritage Festival March 26 Seeks Participants

In June of 2021, the City Commission passed a resolution embracing Key West’s upcoming bicentennial. March 25, 2022 will mark 200 years since Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry sailed the schooner USS Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, claiming Key West and the Florida Keys as property of the United States.

For months, a committee of residents has been organizing the 200 Year Celebration of Key West and the Florida Keys as well as several other important bicentennials including the founding of the City of Key West in 1828 and the establishment of the U.S. Navy’s presence in the island city in 1823 to stop piracy in the region.

The committee members plan a grand celebration in March recognizing the contributions, culture and history of Key West, including the earliest indigenous residents and settlers to the island as well as concentrating on the Key’s fishing heritage, baseball, cigar-making, and Key West’s One Human Family philosophy. Participants can look forward to a Conch picnic, a formal dinner with dignitaries, and a formal ceremony, among other activities.

As a central part of the City of Key West’s celebration, The Key West 200th Heritage Festival will be held Saturday, March 26, 2022 at the Truman Waterfront Park. From 10 am to 9 pm locals and visitors alike can celebrate the bicentennial with exhibits, stage performances, history reenactments and a variety of vendors. The evening caps off with a 15-minute silent drone fireworks show set to music.

This pet-friendly, silent and completely ecofriendly fireworks presentation is the first of its kind in Key West and will feature custom created configurations representing some of the most recognized symbols in our conch community.

The beautiful Truman Waterfront will be divided into zones to include areas representing our Marine, Fishing & Ecosystem, Family & Community, Commercial Interests, Entertainment, Art & Creativity, Heritage & History, Military, Special Events and Conch Cuisine & Spirits. There will be plenty of great local food and beverages available and green space to spread a picnic blanket and enjoy the park. Local businesses, events, attractions, restaurants, distilleries, community organizations, artists, musicians, performers, reenactors and vendors are invited to apply to participate. Organizers are particularly seeking displays and exhibits that represent Key West’s ongoing story.

The Mainstage, brought by AAG Live Key West and Race World Offshore, will kick off with a 10 am opening ceremony and feature live entertainment all day long. Organizers hope to share everything from favorite theater production pieces, iconic musical talent, Mallory Square performers, dancers and cheerleaders to a Junkanoo performance.

A pre-fireworks presentation and National Anthem will happen at 8:15 pm and the drone show takes place at 8:30 pm. This pet-friendly, silent and completely ecofriendly presentation is the first of its kind in Key West and will feature custom created configurations representing some of the most recognized symbols in our conch community. Reserved 10×10 tent space will be available in prime viewing space on the Mole for groups and corporate organizations to sponsor to help underwrite the program.

The Heritage Festival is free to attend. Parking is limited to one handicapped lot and one moped lot so guests should plan to take the free Duval Loop, bike or ride share to the Truman Waterfront.

Sponsorships, VIP viewing tents, and vendor space is available to support this community celebration as well as lots of free space for exhibits and displays. Contact Sean K at 305.731.3885 for more info or register at

The 200th Heritage Festival is just one of several events scheduled for the bicentennial week-long celebration. The primary dedication of the time capsule will be held March 25, which is thought to be the actual bicentennial date, at Mallory Square. For more information contact 200th Anniversary Celebration chairman, Paul Menta or visit


Geoff Bergey

Florida Native, Traveler, Photographer, Lover of Life, Clouds and Key Lime Pie.

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