Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
April 30, 2011
A coast-to-coast conga line sounds like something out of the imaginations of the Guinness folks, but it's just another weekend diversion in the Florida Keys.
The happy processional will step off on May 27 along the mile-long Duval Street in Key West, where it's not such a feat of endurance to march from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The event is part of the kickoff of the Cuban American Heritage Festival, an event that commemorates the rich Cuban heritage of Key West, just 90 miles away from Cuba's shoreline.
Key West was the site of a flourishing cigar industry in the mid to late 1800s, when the island city welcomed thousands of Cuban immigrants seeking greater personal and political freedom.
Led by the Comparsa Key West dance troupe, the conga line begins at 8 p.m. on its trek along Duval from the ocean to the gulf. The public is invited to join the parade.
On May 28, the festival continues at El Meson de Pepe (410 Wall St. at Mallory Square) with a dinner that recognizes Key West's cigar-making legacy. The restaurant's decor includes large-scale artwork reproduced from pieces by renowned Cuban-American folk artist Mario Sanchez.
Cost of the dinner is $75 per person. For reservations, call Jose Diaz at 305-360-0738.
Visit cubanfest.com for more information.
The Cuban American fest isn't the only big event headed to the Keys in coming months. You can find a complete list at OrlandoSentinel.com/postcards, but here are a few highlights:
•Key West Bacchanalia (June 9-12): Keys celebrity chefs face off in a culinary competition in a benefit event that supports breast-cancer research. (keywestbacchanalia.com; 305-766-3356)
•Underwater Music Festival in Big Pine & the Lower Keys (July 9): A quirky concert is broadcast underwater for divers to put a spotlight on reef preservation. (lowerkeyschamber.com; 305-872-2411)
•Mel Fisher Days, Key West (July 14-17): Treasure hunters mark the anniversary of the discovery of a shipwrecked Spanish galleon. (melfisher.com; 305-296-6534).
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