Key West to Celebrate 200th Anniversary of First Permanent Settlement 

 

The 200th anniversary of Key West’s first permanent settlement kicks off Jan. 21 with a historical exhibit at the Custom House Museum and colorful family-friendly “Key West Heritage” festivities, including a band performance by former resident and professional baseball pitcher Bronson Arroyo, throughout March.

 

Festivities are to commemorate 200 years of Key West’s settlement encompassing the bicentennial date of March 25, 1822, when U.S. Navy Lt. Matthew Perry planted the American flag on island soil under order of the Navy.

 

The Conch Revival Picnic, serving up island cuisine on Wednesday, March 23, 6-9 p.m. at the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, 938 Whitehead St., is an informal Conch heritage dinner, with local dishes prepared by chefs Martha Hubbard and Dave Furman.  Tickets are priced from $75.

 

Signature activities of 'The Key West Heritage Festival' on Friday, March 25 are to begin at 4 p.m. at Mallory Square and include a re-enactment Perry’s claiming of the continental United States’ southernmost island as U.S. territory. Local dignitaries, personalities and Navy officials are to participate.

 

A “200th Celebration Time Capsule,” with curated items for unveiling during Key West’s 250th celebration in 2072, also is to be dedicated. Four children, ages 9, 10, 11 and 12, are to be named “Ambassadors for the City of Key West” and designated to reopen the time capsule in 50 years.  With donations ranging from $100 to $1,500, donors can carve their names and seal letters addressed to the community into the granite capsule.

 

In addition beginning March 25, stamp aficionados and collectors can get an addressed or unaddressed envelope, post card or mail, with required First-Class Mail® postage, stamped with a commemorative U.S. Postal Service pictorial Key West postmark (known as a cancel stamp). The stamp can be obtained for 30 days after its unveiling.

 

That evening, the Oldest House Museum and Garden hosts a Key West Bicentennial Celebratory Gala, 6-9 p.m. at 322 Duval St. The event, with 200 tickets priced at $200 each, is to include period costumes, local food and attendance by local and Bahamian officials.

On Saturday, March 26, “Heritage Day” celebrations at Truman Waterfront Park are to include family-friendly festivities, local vendors, continuous stage performances with local music and historic talks, and evening eco-friendly drone fireworks.

To honor Key West’s avid love of baseball, the “Play Ball!” exhibit celebrates with 200 artist-commissioned baseball bats. The bats, individually decorated and available for purchase, are to be displayed Thursday, March 3 through Thursday, March 31 at The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St.  “Play Ball!” artwork also will be displayed at the Oldest House, beginning Friday, March 4 and at the Gato Building, 1100 Simonton St., opening Friday, March 11.

On Saturday, March 12 at 6 p.m., Key West-born former Major League Baseball pitcher Bronson Arroyo — who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks — is to perform a set with his band The Bronson Arroyo Band during the “Key West Bicentennial Concert & Art Exhibit” at the Oldest House Museum’s Tom Woods Garden. One hundred tickets are priced from $20 for students; $35, general admission; and $100 for VIPs.