Key West

Monroe County Public Library

The Monroe County Public Library system is celebrating its 60th birthday this month. But the Key West library calls itself South Florida's oldest, dating back to the 1800s. 

Lawmakers Take Aim At Sunscreen Ban

Nov 4, 2019
Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In light of Key West banning the sale of sunscreens that contain chemicals believed to harm coral reefs, Florida lawmakers are fast-tracking proposals that would undo the local regulation.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said Monday that Key West is sending “mixed signals” to people about the importance of sunscreen and that his bill is meant to send a clear message to the “country and the world” that the use of sunscreen is encouraged in the Sunshine State.

Ron Wolek / Courtesy

Hundreds of people each year parade the streets of Fantasy Fest in Key West after having their naked bodies transformed into artwork through detailed body paint design. 

NOAA

New rules for the troubled reefs and turquoise waters that make up the vast marine sanctuary that surrounds the Florida Keys are threatening to spark a Conch-style uprising. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The local legend in Key West is that a few businessmen started Fantasy Fest in 1979 because they wanted to drum up some business at the end of the off-season.

That's true, says Tony Falcone, who was one of those founding fathers for what has turned into the biggest annual event in the Keys. But it's not the only reason.

MIAMI HERALD

A passenger on a private flight headed out of Key West stepped in front of the plane Saturday night and was struck by the propeller, which severed one of her arms, police said.

Rebecca Lynn Gray, 45, of Fort Myers, was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center and then airlifted to a Miami-area hospital in stable condition, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, which is handling the case.

The incident happened at about 8:45 p.m. Saturday at the Key West International Airport.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

There's a reason Key West was the inspiration for the song Margaritaville. The island runs on booze.

Tourists and the Duval Crawl — that’s the obvious. There are towns where it might be frowned upon for locals to start the day with a beer, or even a shot of tequila. Key West is not one of those towns. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Green iguanas are invasive exotics and in South Florida, their numbers have exploded. They eat vegetation and sometimes bird eggs. And they dig into the ground, destabilizing canal banks, bridge pilings — and at the Key West cemetery, grave sites.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

For years, the city of Key West and Monroe County have been at odds about the location of the city's homeless shelter. But they may have reached a resolution.

Sherrilyn Cabrera / WLRN

The Florida Keys depend on the coral reef tract and marine life for much more than just recreation. They're vital to the economy, contributing billions of dollars in tourism and travel to the region. But pollution, development and a warming ocean have had catastrophic effects on the environment. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In the last few months, Key West has banned the sale of chemical sunscreens and the use of styrofoam and some pesticides on city property. Now the city is taking on single-use plastics.

ANDY NEWMAN / FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU via Miami Herald

A white-bearded retired banker beat out 141 contestants in the Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West at the annual Hemingway Days festival.

Joe Maxey, 68, of Cedar Hill, Tennessee, in his eighth appearance at the contest, said his persistence paid off on Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where the three-round competition was judged by a panel of former winners.

“I love his writing,” Maxey said, after his victory. “He was a great writer and just to be part of this history of Hemingway is just incredible.”

Jed Dodds

For months, a truck that serves only as a mobile billboard has been driving around downtown Key West. Its days on the island may be numbered.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is taking on the island's abundant wild iguana population. They're everywhere, including city-owned property, from the old landfill known as Mount Trashmore to the historic cemetery in the center of the island. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

For the last several weeks, Chicago-based composer and percussionist Ben Wahlund has been a resident artist at The Studios of Key West, absorbing the island and its people, both the tourists and the service workers who provide the only-in-Key West experiences for them.

Wahlund's observations and encounters have been transformed into a dozen musical compositions that he's calling "Mile Marker Zero."

WLRN's Nancy Klingener talked to Wahlund about his work and got a preview of some of the pieces he'll be performing on Saturday, July 13, at The Studios of Key West.

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