08 June 2023

BIG PINE KEY, Florida Keys — Florida Keys visitors and residents are to commemorate the island chain’s bicentennial Monday, July 3, during a “Florida Keys 200” event showcasing the creation of the world’s largest Key lime pie and a spectacular laser light show and fireworks extravaganza.


The once-in-a-lifetime festivities are to salute the 200th anniversary of the Florida Territorial Legislature’s founding of Monroe County, which encompasses the entire Florida Keys, on July 3, 1823.


“Keys 200” events have been staged around the island chain leading up to the anniversary date.


Bicentennial activities are to culminate 200 years to the day after Monroe County’s establishment with the preparation and serving of the world’s largest Key lime pie  the Keys’ most iconic dessert — and a patriotic family-friendly gathering set for 5-10 p.m. at Big Pine Community Park, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at the end of Sands Road.


“What better way to celebrate this fabulous milestone than at one of the largest community events in the Lower Keys?” said Julie Schilling, president of the Rotary Club of the Lower Keys that is presenting the festivities with Monroe County.


“We’re very excited to celebrate with Monroe County on the actual date of the 200th anniversary,” Schilling added.


The gargantuan pie, to be created by Key West chefs Kermit Carpenter and Paul Menta, is expected to measure 13.14 feet in diameter and be prepared with a traditional graham-cracker crust and whipped cream topping. Ingredients are to include juice from several thousand Key limes, more than 55 gallons of sweetened condensed milk and over 200 pounds of graham crackers. 


The pie is to be certified in a resolution by Monroe County commissioners.


The bicentennial event also is to feature a photo booth; bounce house, slide and games for kids; and food trucks offering fare and beverages for purchase.


Fireworks are to be accompanied by a patriotic laser light show, created by Key West Lasers, which is to employ a series of high-powered performance lasers generating a colorful mid-air presentation.


Additional high-energy activities are to include live music by Keys band Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers, as well as former American Idol finalist and Lower Keys resident Kristen McNamara.


Parking near Big Pine Community Park is free. Shuttles are to begin running at 5 p.m. from the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce building, located at 31020 Overseas Highway on Big Pine, to the park.


Event information: bigpinelowerkeysrotary.org or fla-keys.com/keys200, or call the Rotary Club at 305-906-2178

Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 305-872-2411

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