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Key West Celebrates Bicentennial
Here’s a look at the bicentennial festivities happening in March 2022
A look back
On March 25, 1822, the US Navy Schooner Shark, under the command of Lt. Matthew C. Perry, landed at Key West to take possession of the island for the United States. Three months earlier, Key West had been purchased for $2000.00 by American businessman John Simonton from Havana resident Juan P. Salas, who had been given the island for his service in the Spanish army. With the island now a US territory, a navy base was quickly established, settlers moved in, and businesses began to flourish. The island city of Key West was born.
How Key West will be celebrating
The 200th anniversary of the founding of Key West will be celebrated in many ways across 2022. The Key West Art and Historical Society’s Custom House Museum features a yearlong exhibit outlining the island's history since 1822, enhanced by a speaker’s series and the showing of films made on the island. Make sure to see the exhibit when you visit us.
Bicentennial Festivities: Historic, Heritage Festival, Time Capsule, Parades and more
In March, there will be boat tours of historic Key West Harbor, the donation to the Monroe County Archive of the original 1822 logbook of the USS Shark describing the claiming of Key West, a celebration of Key West’s favorite pastime baseball, a Conch Revival Picnic, family movie night and the dedication of a time capsule. Of course, Key West loves a party, and there will be a bicentennial parade followed by a celebration at the Oldest House Museum and Gardens.
Historic Seaport Sails on Argo Navis
March 12th and 19th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
March 12th - History of the Key West Bight
‘The History of the Key West Bight” exploring the rich history of the water, the shorefronts, and the islands along the western end of Key West in this two-hour historic harbor tour with Corey Malcom, Ph.D. Space is limited to 50 passengers, so early registration is recommended. Tickets are $55.00 - $65.00
March 19th - History of the U.S. Navy in Key West
Sail into historic exploration with Key West Art & Historical Society and maritime historian Cori Convertito, Ph.D. in this two-hour historic harbor tour. Space is limited to 50 passengers, so early registration is recommended. Tickets are $55.00 - $65.00
Presentation of Lt. Matthew C. Perry’s Original Logbook
March 20th at 4 pm | Coast Guard Cutter Ingham
One of the ‘Key West 200th” events includes the Key West Maritime Historical Society’s presentation of Lt. Matthew C. Perry’s original logbook, which details his 1822 voyage to the island on the U.S.S. Shark. The ceremony is scheduled at 4 p.m. on March 20th aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, a national historic landmark.
Time Capsule, Parade and Gala
Friday, March 25th - Events begin at 2 pm
On Friday, March 25th, the events will begin at 2 p.m., including a re-enactment of Perry’s planting of the American flag. Staged at Mallory Square beside Key West Harbor, activities feature the dedication of a granite time capsule to be opened in 50 years and the designation of four Key West children to be ambassadors at the island’s 250th-anniversary celebration.
A parade along the world-famous and historic Duval Street is to follow, with an evening Key West Bicentennial Celebratory Gala at the Oldest House Museum and Gardens, 322 Duval St.
Bicentennial Heritage Festival
March 26th from 10 am - 9 pm at Truman Waterfront Park
Enjoy the 200th anniversary of Key West with a free all-day Heritage Festival and Drone 'silent' fireworks display at the beautiful Truman Waterfront Park. Local vendors, artists, authors, and performers will entertain us throughout the day and night. The first-ever drone silent fireworks display will take place at night.
The above gives you a glimpse of the many celebrations happening across the island, and we expect there will be many more events coming online soon. Visit Key West’s Bicentennial calendar of events to stay up-to-date on what’s happening when.
Learn more about Key West's 200th Anniversary Celebration.
Come help Key West celebrate this monumental birthday in style – it will be an event to remember, even 200 years from now! #lovethemarker
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