26 November 2018
FLORIDA KEYS — From beachside fireworks to wacky takeoffs on the traditional ball drop in New York’s Times Square, the Florida Keys offer visitors a wealth of ways to welcome 2019. And because “winter” in the subtropical island chain means balmy breezes rather than bitter blizzards, revelers can celebrate without overcoats, boots or mittens.
As midnight approaches Monday, Dec. 31, festivities in freewheeling Key West feature offbeat takeoffs on New York City’s traditional New Year’s Eve “ball drop” in Times Square.
Chief among them is a soiree with Sushi — not the renowned seafood favorite, but a renowned drag queen who has adopted the name. Sushi headlines the annual “red shoe drop” celebration at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.
Wearing a dazzling gown and perched in a super-sized red high-heel shoe, Sushi is to be lowered from the balcony of the complex as the new year arrives. Performances by talented female impersonators and other entertainers, including chart-topping singer/songwriter Debby Holiday, add to the merrymaking.
Street viewing of the spectacle is free. For information about VIP balcony tickets, visit bourbonstpub.com/newyearseve.html
For the first time in Key West, New Year’s Eve festivities are planned at the original home of Pan American Airways featuring the “flight” of a Pan Am “stewardess” in a replica aircraft. Today called First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery, the structure now located at 301 Whitehead St. was the place where Pan-Am’s first tickets were sold in 1927. In recognition of its heritage, First Flight is pairing the stewardess’ descent with a “Roaring 20s Great Gatsby” gala complete with champagne and food stations. Attendees are encouraged to wear Gatsby-era costumes. For information and ticketing, visit firstflightkw.com.
Key West’s other planned “drops” welcoming 2019 include a “conch shell drop” at Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St.; the lowering of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship’s mast at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St.; and the splash-down of a huge replica Key lime wedge into a supersized margarita glass at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St.
For more information on the respective events, visit sloppyjoes.com, schoonerwharf.com or facebook.com/SunsetPierKeyWest/.
At the head of the Florida Keys in Key Largo, a New Year’s Eve fireworks extravaganza is to illuminate the sky above Blackwater Sound. The sparkling display is hosted by bayside hotspots Sundowners, Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, the Caribbean Club and other popular Key Largo venues located around mile markers (MM) 103 and 104. Visit keylargofireworks.com.
Midnight fireworks also are planned to entertain revelers at a popular emporium in Islamorada. Morada Bay Beach Café at MM 81.6 bayside is to host a large beach party with live music, a beach barbecue, signature cocktails and performers — all culminating in a dazzling display of fireworks to ring in the new year. Visit moradabay.com or call 305-664-0604.
Florida Keys events calendar: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents/
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397)
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