On March 25, 1822, Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry sailed the schooner USS Shark to Key West and planted the U.S. flag, claiming the Keys as United States property. Nobody protested the American claim on Key West, so the Florida Keys became the property of the United States. Two hundred years later, Key West gives more reasons to travel by gearing up to celebrate its bicentennial. There is a heritage festival, parades, a drone show, and undoubtedly plenty of pie.
Key West Bicentennial Festivities
A time capsule dedication ceremony is among the planned events for the public to enjoy in the week leading up to the celebration. Four children will act as the ambassadors for the future of Key West. They are selected by age, 9 through 12 years old, so they can then return for the island’s 250th anniversary in 2072. Donations of funds and items to place inside the capsule are encouraged by Key West; those that donate can then add their name to the side of the capsule. The capsule’s chosen location is under the flag, originally planted by Lt. Perry in 1822.
Also planned for the week leading up to the anniversary include fireworks, walking tours, renowned speakers, and a drone show. For a complete list of events, find the calendar here.
On Friday, Key West is officially opening its doors for the Key West 200 Exhibit. The exhibit will highlight Key West’s people, culture, and community. It reaches back to the settler who arrived on the remote island in early 1822. The exhibit features rarely displayed artifacts that tell the story of the people, industries, migration, culture, and architecture that shaped Key West over two centuries. Divided by decade, the exhibit emphasizes many significant moments and people that have influenced much of the growth of Key West.
The Key West 200 Exhibit is located in the Bryan and Bumpus Galleries at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street. Travelers have until December 11, 2022, to visit the exhibit.