Sack races and hula hoop contests were enjoyed by people all ages at Sombrero Beach in Marathon on Dec. 28. Visitors speaking a variety of languages joined in the fun. The beach games are an annual event each year between the Christmas and New Year holidays put on by the Marathon Parks and Recreation Department.
Sara Bernal, a third-grader at Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon, got the star treatment when she got a ride to school on a Marathon Fire Rescue truck, a reward for her success in the school's read-a-thon. Her escorts were (from left) firefighter/paramedic George Martinez, Lt. Danny Murciano and firefighter/paramedic Danny Montanez.
A nurse at the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami explains to Monroe County students what happens when patients arrive at the center. The Florida Keys Area Health Education Center, partnering with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, sponsored the tour, which included the burn unit, for students at Coral Shores, Marathon and Key West high schools. They also toured the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education.
Crew with SeaTow Key Largo hauls a 35-foot sperm whale out to sea after finding the dead and bloated animal Jan. 2 in the middle of the 'Spiegel Grove' and 'Benwood' wrecks off Key Largo. Marine Mammal Conservancy Chairman Art Cooper says it 'probably died of old age.' When found, sharks were feeding on the carcass. Cooper sent skin samples to the National Marine Fisheries Service for scrutiny.
Vicki Walker raised $15,722.50 for the nonprofit Good Health Clinic in Tavernier as part of an annual competition among Upper Keys 'celebrities,' and was named Big Kahuna. The clinic provides free health care for people living or working in the Upper Keys and earning at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Walker received the Big Kahuna statue at the clinic's Big Kahuna Beach Luau at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Islamorada. Overall, six Kahuna candidates raised a total of $39,849.
Employees of and visitors to the Marathon Jet Center and Marathon General Aviation at Florida Keys Marathon Airport threw a holiday party Dec. 14, with those attending bearing gifts for students in Stanley Switlik Elementary School's Head Start program. Here, Kris Later (left) delivers gifts to Head Start teacher Deb Wonderlin.
The American Bikers Aimed Toward Education had a successful toy run for Keys kids on Nov. 24. Here, they ride over the Seven Mile Bridge. After the run, the group gathered at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office headquarters on Stock Island.
Volunteers with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's T.E.A.M. Ocean show 18 bags of marine debris collected from a Tavernier shoreline during a recent cleanup. The garbage weighed more than 300 pounds and consisted mostly of plastic cans, buckets and bottles, along with metal and rope.
Three Key West firefighters were honored for their roles in supporting the U.S. Army's Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West. At the presentation are (from left) Sgt. Maj. John L. Thies, firefighter Jason Bogeoff, Fire Department Capt. Wayne Owen, firefighter Keith Durden, Maj. Sam Kline and Special Forces Sgt. Robert L. Sherry.
Some 200 kids went out the Saturday after Thanksgiving to have photos taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate's Big Pine Key office. The annual gathering included giving the kids gift bags and enjoyed free ice cream and Christmas goodies. A similar event took place at Schmitt's Marathon office.
Dec. 26 brought an international crowd to Sombrero Beach in Marathon, with people from states north -- as well as Russia, Hungary, England, China, Canada and Germany -- enjoying our warm weather. The beach was the site of the city's annual Sombrero Beach Sandcastle and Sand Sculpture Contest. Thirteen teams, including this one from Kentucky, competed.
Members of the Florida Keys Reef Lights Foundation get ready to board a boat at the Tarpon Creek Marina at the Marathon Holiday Inn Express for a half day at Sombrero Light six miles offshore. The goal of the foundation is to obtain five historic Florida Keys lighthouses and maintain them -- while ensuring they are open to the public for things as mundane as basic events to more grandiose events such as weddings. It's a long process to obtain ownership from the federal government.
Publix Super Markets Charities has donated $8,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Key West and the Lower Florida Keys. The money is to support Habitat's A Brush with Kindness program, which makes repairs on homes owned by income-qualified elderly homeowners of the Lower Keys. At the presentation are (from left) Kevin Piper, manager of the Key Plaza Publix; Mark Moss, Habitat for Humanity executive director; and Kim Seitz, Searstown Publix manager.
Hospice of the Florida Keys/Visiting Nurse Association receives a donation of more than $1,600 from Pirates on the Water, the Key Largo chapter of the Parrot Heads in Paradise club. At the presentation are (from left) Judy Curtis, Debbie Brown, Hospice/VNA Development Director Kim Sovia-Crandon, Sandy Singleton, and John Freeman.
The Chi Sigma chapter of Beta Sigma Phi raised $5,500 through the Monroe County Sheriff's Office's recent dinner/dance to benefit the Monroe Association of ReMARCable Citizens. The dance, held at the Tavernier Elks Club, drew more than 100 people. Those attending include (from left) Peggy Bryan, Capt. Corey Bryan, Lt. Lee Ann Holroyd (Chi Sigma president), Geno Harris, Sue Harrison, Detective Dan Meheler and Judy Hamm.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 13-03 members (from left) Donna Moore, Dottie Anderson and Bob McNamee from Big Pine Key complete one of their beach cleanups, which they do on a regular basis in the Lower Keys.
Three days of the Sombrero Beach Holiday Games in Marathon entertained guests from around the world, and included a limbo contest for all ages. Hammer Runyon, city of Marathon staff, helped the Parks and Recreation Department with the games.
Volunteers with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's Team O.C.E.A.N. program collected 26 bags of garbage and other larger debris during a shoreline cleanup at Harry Harris Park in Tavernier. The items collected consisted mostly of plastics, foam and derelict fishing gear. Keys Sanitary has been supporting the monthly efforts with free waste disposal services.
Eagle Scout Sean O'Neill accepts congratulations from Father Henryk Pawelec of San Pedro Catholic Church for O'Neill's completed Eagle Scout project, a solar-lighted sign and planter box at the Plantation Key church. O'Neill designed the project and obtained materials, then built it with help from fellow Scouts and friends. Native plants were used for low maintenance. O'Neill, a Coral Shores High School senior, has been in Scouting since the first grade.