American politics has truly become a spectator sport, and one Upper Keys hangout is making election night a memorable event for local spectators with live voting results, food, music and...a donkey.
Robby Whitehurst, owner of the Caribbean Club in Key Largo, said a donkey — which is the Democratic Party’s mascot — will be the guest of honor for a party on Tuesday, Nov. 4 celebrating what he hopes is an historic election victory.
“This is a pretty big election, and this was just an idea I had to do something when it’s usually slow down here in the Keys,” Whitehurst said.
“We are really involved in politics, and people are going to be here anyway, so we thought let’s make a party out of it.”
Whitehurst said he plans to pick up the donkey in Homestead on Tuesday morning. He said, depending on the animal’s temperament, he’ll possibly bring it by Key Largo Elementary School to show to students, before setting it up in a pen in the back of the Caribbean Club.
Patrons can pet and feed the donkey and get their picture taken before it is returned to Homestead at about 7 p.m., Whitehurst said.
As for getting an elephant, the Republican Party’s mascot, Whitehurst said it would have been too difficult and expense. Plus, it’s not that kind of party, he said.
“We’re doing an old fashioned Democratic picnic,” said Whitehurst, who is supporting Barack Obama in the presidential election.
“The way we’re going right now, we need some help,” He said. “And maybe Obama doesn’t have the experience, and maybe he’s a poor boy not brought up like the rich Republicans, and maybe what we need.”
Throughout the afternoon and evening, the Caribbean Club will display election coverage on its four TVs and the live band will announce new results as they come in, for both the national and local races.
The Caribbean Club likely won’t be the only local watering hole drawing crowds on election night.
In 2004, Dillon’s Pub and Grill in Tavernier was filled with locals watching as President George W. Bush won re-election over John Kerry.
Holly Merrill, legislative assistant for state Rep. Ron Saunders, and secretary of the Greater Keys Republican Club, said parties held by local candidates are usually the most popular on election night.
“I usually go to a friend’s house, have some cocktails and watch the results come in,” Merrill said.
“The GOP isn’t having anything formal. It’s really more candidate-focused” events taking place this year, she said.
In Key West, several local democratic candidates are joining forces to hold one large election party at the DoubleTree Grand Key Resort starting at 7 p.m.
Candidates Henry Woods (election supervisor), Bill Estes (county commission), Irving Higgs (property appraiser), Joan Lord-Pappy (mosquito control board) and Randy Acevedo (schools superintendent) are hosting the party.