January 3, 2011
Happy New Year 2011! In the past few years, Key West has developed into one of the top five New Year’s Eve destinations in the US, just behind such obvious destinations like Times Square in New York, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Orlando. Thousands of tourists flock to the island to take in the usually warm and sunny weather and the variety of celebrations that mark the coming of the New Year.
Beth, Melissa & Greta
Alicia & Sheila
Fiona & Jim
With Kathy out of town, visiting family in Massachusetts, I was solo for New Year’s Eve for the first time in ages. Thankfully rather than rue my solitude, I had a myriad of holiday options available and managed to squeeze almost all of them in due to some creative scheduling and hustle.
I started the evening at the annual New Year’s party at the home of our friends Jim & Fiona. They have hosted a holiday shindig at their home for a number of years and the location of their home on Key Haven offers a wonderful, intimate setting that is away from the madness downtown. They had a huge spread of food and drinks and a great crowd of many of our good friends, making it a fun evening. I could easily have stayed into the new year there, but had already made a couple of other commitments which made me have to depart rather early and miss out on much of the fun.
Nancy & Mark
Eric & Betsy
Elena, Erin & Ashley
My next stop was at another New Year’s Eve tradition, another party, this time at the home of our friends Nan & Mark. This celebration too featured wonderful food, drinks and friends. It was packed and festive and once again, I would have been happy to stay, but for the first time in years I had decided to brave the masses on Duval Street and see what all the fuss was about.
Of the three focal points for midnight (The Wench drop at Schooner Wharf, the Conch Shell drop at Sloppy Joe’s and the Drag Queen drop at Bourbon Street), I opted for the drag queen. It strikes me as the most uniquely Key West and is after all covered live for the World to see on CNN. I barely made it down in time to catch the lowering of the large red shoe containing the drag queen known as Sushi as the clock struck midnight and the New Year got underway.
CNN's John Zarrella
There were literally thousands packing the street to watch the festivities and they went understandably berserk as 2010 passed into 2011. It was fun to be part of the massive celebration, though as an event the dropping of the shoe seemed rather pedestrian. Or perhaps it was just the lack of emotion from the star attraction, Sushi, who seemed at times bored by the entire thing. Maybe it is time to find a new star attraction to take over the role.
Julie & Kim
After the crowd parted a little, I was able to make my way over to the Green Parrot to meet up with friends from work and to see the party band from New Orleans, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes. The parrot was crowded, though still manageable, certainly less packed than most of Duval Street. I spent the first few hours of 2011 enjoying the music, a few libations and my friends before riding my bike home.
Lauren & George