Key West

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has become the first place in the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two chemicals that have been found in some studies to harm corals.

"There are thousands and thousands of various alternative sunscreens that can be used. But we only have one reef," said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, one of the sponsors of the ordinance.

It won final approval by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In the late 19th century, Key West was home to a large community of Cuban exiles. Poet and revolutionary leader José Martí visited the island several times to unite exile factions. On Monday, Marti made a return visit of sorts.

Twitter of Key West Citizen / Courtesy

A number of cosmetic shops on Duval Street in Key West have been criticized for targeting tourists with scams and overcharging their credit cards. The shops are known for placing employees on the street who try to get customers' attention by offering free samples to lure them in. Now Key Westers are questioning the sales tactics and legality.

Luke Ballentine / Courtesy

The South Florida Symphony Orchestra's Maestra Sebrina Alfonso is bringing the groundbreaking George Gershwin 1930s opera “Porgy and Bess” to the region for a series of performances.

The opera follows the story of poor African Americans struggling to survive and make money in the fictional neighborhood of Catfish Row in South Carolina. The opera was significant for shining the spotlight on black art in America by featuring an all-black cast.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The city of Key West took the first step Tuesday toward becoming the first place on the mainland U.S. to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain certain chemicals, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which some studies have shown can harm corals. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West holds a lot of parties, parades and even athletic events where people dress up in all forms - including in tutus. Now there's a new initiative to make that happen even more often.

Gwen Filosa /

Stick around Key West long enough and you’ll see plenty of tutus, those tiny puffs of skirt worn by ballerinas.

They’ve become a symbol of carefree living in Key West, donned by the gay, the straight and even the local mail carrier while on duty.

Even dogs, big and small, wear tutus in the Southernmost City.

Then there’s Fantasy Fest’s famous Tutu Tuesday party and parade every October and at least one tutu 5K race a year. And the outfit has become dresswear for the party set.


Over the summer, Hawaii became the first place in the United States to ban sunscreens with chemicals that have been found to harm corals. Now Key West is considering a similar ban. And a group opposing the ban is fighting back — online.

If you're in Key West and open a video on YouTube, there's a new ad on heavy rotation.

Silas House / Courtesy

Key West is a popular locale for writers to set their stories. Beyond the aquamarine waters and swaying palm trees, the Keys provide openness, tolerance and isolation.

Those are among the reasons why author Silas House decided to set his novel in the southernmost city in the United States. The November title for the Sundial Book Club, "Southernmost" is the story of Asher Sharp, a former preacher in a small Tennessee town who kidnaps his own son after losing a custody battle. Of course, they end up in Key West.

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People who live in the Florida Keys have been waiting for years to find out whether the island chain will be the first place in the U.S. to try genetically modified mosquitoes as a method of controlling the pests.

They're going to have to wait awhile longer.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West elected a new mayor Tuesday for the first time in nine years. And Teri Johnston's victory was historic: she's the first openly lesbian woman to win election as a mayor in Florida, according to the LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida

Johnston has lived in Key West for 20 years. She works as a local contractor. And she served as a city commissioner for eight years.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

More than a week after 11 people were shot and killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Key Westers of many faiths gathered at South Florida's oldest Jewish Congregation to speak out against anti-Semitism.

More than 100 people attended the service and read the names of the 11 people who died.

Rabbi Simon Dudai of Congregation B'Nai Zion in Key West led the group in the Mourner's Kaddish.

Afterward,  he said the service and the number of people who attended showed Key West living up to its official motto, One Human Family.

Mark Hedden /

In Florida's high profile, tightly contested governor's race, the focus is squarely on South Florida. On Thursday, one candidate went as far south as he could go.

Mark Hedden / Special for WLRN

It's the one night of the year when zombies take over the streets of Key West. Thousands of zombies. On bikes.

The Zombie Bike Ride has been around less than a decade but has quickly grown into one of the locals' favorite Fantasy Fest events, a remarkably family-friendly cap to the first weekend of the 10-day festival of parties, parades, costume contests and general decadence.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

The Florida Keys' wacky and often-decadent costuming and masking festival is kicking off with a coronation ball to crown the 10-day festival's king and queen.

Fantasy Fest begins Friday in Key West. The celebration started in 1979 when a small group of Key Westers dreamt up the event to bolster business between summer and winter.