FLORIDA KEYS - The waters surrounding the Florida Keys are to sparkle and pop during Independence Day celebrations in the island chain as families gather for beachside barbecues, parades and on-the-water fun that coincide with spectacular fireworks shows.
Key West's 28th annual July 4 picnic to benefit Hospice of the Florida Keys and the Visiting Nurse Association is to take place at the luxurious Casa Marina Resort & Beach Club, a member of the Waldorf Astoria Collection located at 1500 Reynolds St. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The celebration is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. with fireworks starting at 9 p.m. courtesy of the Key West Rotary Club.
The traditional buffet offers hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings for $25 per adult, $10 per child between 3 and 12 and free for children younger than age 3. General admission (no meal) tickets are $10. Free watermelon, popcorn and cold drinks, live music, a silent auction and lots of children's games round out the fun-filled family festivities.
For an elegant alternative, attendees can choose reserved beachfront seats with first-class service and a lavish buffet. Tickets for the best seats on the beach section are $125 per person.
For information, call 305-294-8812 or visit <>
Sugarloaf Key is the happening spot for the Big Pine & Lower Keys Rotary Club's annual Fourth of July Fireworks set to take place at Sugarloaf Airport, mile marker (MM) 17 bayside adjacent to the quirky Bat Tower landmark. Co-sponsored by the Big Pine & Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, activities include live music headlined by the Category 4 band, food, ice-cold beverages, and games and activities for adults and kids.
An expanded fireworks show is set to go off at nightfall, or about 9 p.m. Admission is free but no coolers, pets or personal fireworks will be allowed. Gates open at 5 p.m. and, in the event of rain, the celebration will take place July 5. For more information, call Cece at 305-766-8467.
For one of the Keys' largest and longest fireworks displays, families gather for a full day of activities in Marathon. A patriotic parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and proceeds from Marathon High School on Sombrero Beach Road (MM 50 oceanside) to free-admission Sombrero Beach, where a daylong celebration features food, drink, kids' crafts and entertainment, and fireworks after dark.
Marathon is known as the Boating Destination of the Keys, and hundreds of boaters line up in front of the beach for a preferred view of the festivities. For details, call the Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 305-743-5417 or visit www.floridakeysmarathon.com
Independence Day at Islamorada's newly remodeled Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle, MM 84 oceanside, is expected to include live music at the Tiki Bar along with food, fun and frolicking. Revelers can plan for festivities to start at 2 p.m. and carry on into the night.
Founders Park, MM 87 on Plantation Key, is the site of Spirit of Islamorada, an old-fashioned annual Fourth of July celebration hosted by the Village of Islamorada and the Upper Keys Rotary Club. Entertainment and activities for kids, teens, parents and dogs highlight the event from 6-9:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks show. Islamorada residents and visitors are welcome to attend.
Guests staying at participating resorts are to receive wristbands for free admission to the event at 6 p.m. A $10 admission fee for nonresidents not staying at a participating hotel applies. Details of the celebration are to be posted at the Spirit of Islamorada Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-of-Islamorada-2010-Fireworks-at-Founders-Park/115710398653
Along Key Largo's bayside, the action takes place around MM 103. An annual fireworks display over Blackwater Sound provides an illuminating viewing experience whether seen by land or by sea. The show is to take place Wednesday, July 4, at 9 p.m.
The best bayside seating is at Sundowners and Senior Frijoles Restaurants, Caribbean Club and the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort. Reservations are suggested because seating fills up early. For more information, visit www.keylargofireworks.com
In addition, the Upper Keys Reporter is to co-sponsor its 37th annual Fourth of July parade with the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce. This year's theme is America: Yesterday, Today and Forever.
The parade is to get rolling at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at Anthony's Clothing Store, MM 98.2 on the center median of U.S. Highway 1 in Key Largo, and end at MM 100. Awards are to be presented to floats in most original, most beautiful and best portrayal of theme categories among others. For details, call 305-394-1404 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com