TOP STORIES FROM KEY WEST IN 2020
W.You mean we wrote about something other than the pandemic and its many tentacles reach into all facets of life? There was other What’s happening in Key West from late February 2020 until now? Oh that’s right We also had a local election, a hotly divided cruise debate, an online voting for virtual Bubba Awards, and an interview with Mark Wahlberg. Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Although the coronavirus made almost all of the headlines and consumed all conversation, there was some other notable news from the southernmost city in 2020:
VOTERS PASS CRUISE SHIP REDUCTIONS BY DEBATE CITY
The Key West cruise debate was as divisive and political as the presidential election. The Key West Committee for Safer Cleaning Vessels led a change in city charter to significantly reduce the size and number of vessels that can visit Key West. The committee has claimed that smaller ships will benefit both the environment and the culture of Key West. But others in the industry have questioned these claims, saying that the smaller ships are older and therefore the least environmentally friendly.
Entrepreneurs and the Key West Chamber of Commerce opposed the restrictions and suggested compromises that were not accepted.
The voting questions were passed without any problems with a majority of 60%. Now the lawsuits come as business owners seek to blame the city for the financial damage they will suffer if the cruise industry sails again. It remains to be seen whether the shipping restrictions can be enforced at Pier B, the city’s only private docking facility for cruise ships. Pier B owners are not expected to simply give away tens of millions of dollars in revenue from cruise lines.
The problem has been a matter of debate since the last ship left Key West on March 14th when the pandemic hit. However, it will return in the coming months when the ships return at sea.
The brothers Mark, Paul and Donnie Wahlberg opened a Key West Wahlburgers location in the historic seaport in August. CONTRIBUTION
KEY WEST RECEIVES WEEKLY INTERVIEW WITH MARK WAHLBERG
Britt Myers, editor of Key West Weekly, interviewed Mark Wahlberg in August. The actor, director, die-hard Patriot fan and prominent family man on the A-list supported the opening of his family’s 46th Wahlburgers restaurant. The Key West location opened in the city’s historic seaport in August. During the grand opening ceremony in Key West, a young Mark Wahlberg fan dined at the restaurant with his parents. Upon hearing what kind of fan the kid was, the manager called Mark Wahlberg and let the kid FaceTime with his Hollywood idol.
(Regardless of the star power, food is also “badly good”.)
Key West Mayor Teri Johnston enjoys a festive glass of champagne at home after being re-elected in the primary on August 18, defeating Mark Rossi and Rick Haskins. MANDY MILES / Keys weekly
MAYOR TERI JOHNSTON RE-ELECTED
Key West Mayor Teri Johnston drew two challengers in her non-partisan race for re-election. In the August primary, Johnston competed against former town commissioner Mark Rossi, who owns a collection of bars on Duval Street, and local son Rick Haskins, who retired from his vacation rental career to become full-time mayor.
Johnston took more than 50% of the vote to beat their challengers in the primary and received 59%. Rossi got 21% and Haskins got 19%.
Like many cherished events, the Key West Bubbas: People’s Choice Awards 2020 have been adapted for COVID. The virtual format and online voting generated 11,000 ballots within six weeks. JAVIER REYES / Keys Weekly
KEYS WEEKLY’S BUBBA AWARDS GO VIRTUAL WITH ONLINE VOTES
Keys Weekly had to change the 2020 Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards because – what else? – – the pandemic. There was no live awards show due to social distancing requirements, and the online voting yielded more than 11,000 ballots in six weeks.
The revised format asked voters to vote for one of the previous year’s (2014-2019) winners in each category. The all-inclusive format and nomination process will return in 2021, but we wanted to stay sensitive this year to battle friends, neighbors, and businesses – and avoid pitting the entire community against each other.
This year’s awards also raised donations to Community Wins, the fundraiser that was launched to replace donations lost due to the cancellation of Fantasy Fest and its King and Queen campaign.
Thank you to everyone who has attended the Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards since 2014. Your generosity, along with that of our sponsors, has raised nearly $ 100,000 for local nonprofits and organizations.
While the nation was riddled with police violence against colored people, David Sloan researched and wrote a weekly column entitled “Love Me Do” detailing the history of systemic racism in Key West during the first half of the 20th century.
KEYS WEEKLY COLUMNIST DAVID SLOAN EXAMINES HISTORICAL RACISM IN THE KEY WEST
In light of the Minnesota police murder of George Floyd and the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, columnist and researcher David Sloan authored a series of columns on the historical and systemic racism that tarnished Key West in the first half of the 20th century.
Sloan’s powerful and well-researched articles, collectively referred to as “Love Me Do,” plunged into the darker days of an island long known for its acceptance. The columns covered racist minstrel shows, tar and feather punishment, lynching, and other crimes against people of color.
The dreaded replacement of the Cow Key Bridge between Key West and Stock Island was not a problem, as most of the road closures that would have confused traffic occurred while the Keys were closed to visitors and non-essential businesses were closed. MANDY MILES / Keys weekly
PANDEMIC MAKES COW KEYBRIDGE REPAIRS PALATABEL
The dreaded replacement for the Cow Key Bridge turned out to be a silver lining for the dark days of COVID. The replacement of the double bridge spans required 180 days of closure of the lanes, which should block and leave the traffic in Key West at different times of the day.
The school district was working on rescheduling the bus routes. Key West hotels adjusted workers’ hours to avoid morning and afternoon delays. With no visitors allowed in the Keys from March to June, with school buildings closed and no hotel guests present, work continued with minimal inconvenience and was completed on time.