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Family-Friendly Fourth of July Festivities Planned Throughout Florida Keys

Local parades, beach parties, glittering fireworks and the creation of the world's largest Key lime pie are to highlight Independence Day celebrations throughout the Florida Keys.
FLORIDA KEYS - Local parades, beach parties, glittering fireworks and the creation of the world's largest Key lime pie are to highlight Independence Day celebrations throughout the Florida Keys. Highlights include:

Key West
The Key Lime Festival features culinary and libation adventures Friday, June 30, through Tuesday, July 4, showcasing the tiny fruit that inspired Key lime pie, the Florida Keys' signature dessert. The lip-smacking Key Lime Pie Eating Championship, the festival highlight, is set for 1:30 p.m. July 4 at the oceanfront Southernmost Beach Cafe at 1405 Duval St. Participants with their hands behind their backs must dive in face-first to devour an entire 9-inch Key lime pie faster than their rivals. The event is free for spectators and gates open at 11 a.m. Visit keylimefestival.com.

The Key West Mermaid Festival is filled with splish-splashing fun July 1-4 with interactive mermaid adventures in the island city. Events include a "sailing with the mermaids" sunset sail, a mermaid encounter at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and an Ocean Blue Party with dancing by the sea. On July 4, bring the kids to enjoy donuts with mermaid Ariel and Prince Eric from 9-10:30 a.m. on the beach at Lagerheads, 0 Simonton St. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., watch as mermaids perform for the cameras during a music video taping. A portion of festival proceeds is to benefit Reef Relief's efforts to protect the coral reef ecosystem. Visit keywestmermaidfestival.com.

Since 1976, the Rotary Club of Key West has presented the island's annual Independence Day fireworks show. Staged from the Edward B. Knight Pier overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 1800 White St., fireworks are to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 4. Spectators can view the spectacle from Smathers Beach, Higgs Beach, or from oceanside hotels and restaurants. Attendees can celebrate before the fireworks at a catered, ticketed "Patriotic Dinner Under the Fireworks" next to the pier at Indigenous Park, 1801 White St., starting at 7 p.m. Dinner proceeds are to benefit the Rotary Club of Key West's scholarship fund. Visit keywestrotary.com.

Big Pine & the Lower Keys
The public is invited to celebrate Monroe County's bicentennial July 3 - 200 years to the day after the county's 1823 establishment - with a 5-10 p.m. family-friendly gathering hosted by the Lower Keys Rotary Club at Big Pine Community Park, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at the end of Sands Road. Highlights are to include the creation and serving of the world's largest Key lime pie, live music by Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers and others, a bounce house and games for kids, food trucks, beverages for sale, and a glittering fireworks display and patriotic laser light show from a barge in the gulf beginning at 9 p.m. Free parking for the event is to be available at the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce building, 31020 Overseas Highway, with a shuttle to the park beginning at 5 p.m. Admission is free but coolers, pets and personal fireworks are not allowed. Visit facebook.com/LowerKeysRotary.

In family-oriented Marathon, Sombrero Beach is the site of one of the Keys' largest and longest fireworks displays, produced by the City of Marathon and the Rotary Club of Marathon. Spectators on land and hundreds of boaters traditionally line up for colorful views of the spectacular show. A full day of activities includes a patriotic parade starting at 11 a.m. from Marathon High School to the beach on Sombrero Beach Road, followed by food and games. Fireworks are to start at approximately 9 p.m., and US1 Radio 104.1 is to play patriotic music along with the display. Boaters are encouraged to watch from the waters off Sombrero Beach. For more information, visit floridakeysmarathon.com.

The Upper Keys Rotary Club hosts the Independence Day Celebration at Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside, from 6-10 p.m. July 4. There will be food trucks, games, music and special events including an apple pie baking contest with judging at 6:30 p.m. and the Patriotic People & Pets Parade and Costume Contest at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks are to begin after sunset. On-site parking will be available for a suggested donation of $10 per vehicle. Proceeds benefit the Upper Keys Rotary Foundation. No coolers, glass containers or outside food are permitted, but attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Visit islamoradachamber.com or call 305-664-4503.

Key Largo
The Key Largo Chamber of Commerce is to host the annual "Celebrating Freedom" Fourth of July parade between 9:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., to begin at mile marker 98.2 in front of Anthony's Clothing Store and proceed to Laguna Avenue near Key Largo Community Park. At approximately 9:45 p.m., the annual bayfront Blackwater Sound fireworks celebration is to be held at Rowell's Waterfront Park, mile marker 104.5 bayside. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Parking is limited, and organizers recommend spectators bring their own lawn chairs. The fireworks also can be viewed at several businesses located on the Bay. For more details, visit web.keylargochamber.org/events or call 305-451-1414.

Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
Florida Keys event information: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents
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