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Skies lighting up over the Keys for the Fourth

Fireworks shows are planned up and down the Keys.
Fireworks shows are planned up and down the Keys.

Florida Keys waters sparkle during the annual Independence Day celebrations while families and friends gather throughout the Keys for beachside barbecues, picnics, parades, on-the-water fun and spectacular fireworks shows.

Key West

In its 31st year, Key West's annual July 4 picnic to benefit Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Florida Keys takes place at the Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St., overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The celebration is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. with fireworks starting at 9 courtesy of the Key West Rotary Club. A buffet offers hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings for $25 per adult, $10 per child between ages 4 and 12, and free for children younger than 4. General admission (no meal) tickets are $10 and include watermelon, popcorn and soft drink.

Live music, a silent auction and lots of children's games round out the festivities. For information about the VNA/Hospice benefit picnic, call (305) 320-0667.

Meanwhile, a celebration of Florida's official state pie is to be staged in Key West July 2, 3 and 4. Scheduled highlights of the Key Lime Festival include a Key lime pie-eating contest, a talent show and samplings of Keys-distilled rum flavored with the tangy lime.

Events are held throughout Key West at locations including Sloppy Joe's, the Green Parrot Bar and the Smokin' Tuna Saloon.

Big Pine Key

The Big Pine & Lower Keys Rotary Club is set to host its annual Independence Day fireworks July 3 at the Big Pine Community Park, 31009 Atlantis Road.

The event, co-sponsored by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, includes live music headlined by Haywire, food and beverages accompanied by games and activities for adults and kids. The fireworks are set to go off at nightfall, or about 9 p.m.

Admission is free. Coolers, pets and personal fireworks will not be allowed. Gates open at 5 p.m. and a rain date, if necessary, is scheduled for July 5. For information, call (305) 872-2411.

Marathon

The July 4 weekend in the Middle Keys is to be highlighted by the Marathon Super Boat Grand Prix, with events scheduled July 3, 4 and 5. Race day is July 5, when powerful high-speed boats are to show their muscle on a course parallel to Marathon's bayside shoreline near the Seven Mile Bridge.

Race fans can enjoy free admission to view the boats and meet drivers and crews from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. over the three days Friday at the Race Village dry pits at Florida Keys Marathon International Airport, mile marker 51 bayside. The wet pits, at the event's headquarters at the docks behind the Hyatt Place Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, 1996 Overseas Highway, are to be open to the public July 4 from noon to 4 p.m. the next day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also in Marathon, families can gather for the annual beach party and fireworks show, starting with a patriotic parade at 10:30 a.m. The route goes from Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road, to Sombrero Beach, where a celebration features food, drink, kids' crafts, music and entertainment.

Capping off the day is one of the Keys' largest and longest fireworks displays, scheduled to start just after dark. Hundreds of boaters line up in front of the beach for a preferred view. For details, call the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce at (305) 743-5417.

Islamorada

The popular Spirit of Islamorada July 4 celebration is to be held at Founders Park, mile marker 87 bayside on Plantation Key. Hosted by the village of Islamorada and the Upper Keys Rotary Club, the event features entertainment, food and drinks for kids, teens, adults and even dogs.

The party is to run 6 to 9:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks show. An admission fee of $10 is to be charged to nonresidents. For information, call Founders Park at (305) 853-1685.

Independence Day's holiday weekend lineup at Islamorada's Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina at Holiday Isle, mile marker 84 oceanside, is expected to include live music at the tiki bar along with food, fun and frolicking.

Key Largo

The 40th annual Fourth of July parade co-sponsored by the The Reporter and the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce is themed "Red, White and True."

The parade gets rolling at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at Anthony's Clothing Store, mile marker 98.2 in the center median of U.S. in Key Largo, and ends at mile marker 100. Awards are to be presented for most original entry, most beautiful and best portrayal of the theme.

Following the parade will be a free-admission old-fashioned community picnic at the Key Largo Community Park, 500 St. Croix Place (mile marker 100 oceanside). The chamber, with The Reporter, are to give away free hot dogs and sodas, followed by the float award presentation. Parking is free. For more information, call (305) 451-1414 or (305) 852-3216.

Along Key Largo's bayside around mile marker 104 is where Independence Day fireworks happen, over Blackwater Sound. The show is scheduled for at 10 p.m., weather permitting. The best bayside seating is at Sundowners and Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill restaurants, the Caribbean Club and Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort, all around mile marker 104. Reservations are suggested because seating fills up early. For more information, call (305) 451-4502.

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