Florida Keys 200 Year Anniversary
On July 3, 1823, Monroe County became the sixth county in the Florida territory, preceding Florida becoming a state in 1845. In 1823, the County took up most of sparsely-populated south Florida, with the County line located just below Lake Okeechobee.
To celebrate the 200-year milestone. the County is hosting several celebrations culminating on July 3, 2023, with funding from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. Events include:
Monday, July 3
Bicentennial Celebration at Lower Keys Rotary's Annual 3rd of July Fireworks Celebration at Big Pine Key Community Park from 5 to 10 p.m. Fireworks start after 9 p.m. The Florida Keys will attempt to regain the rightful reign of having the world's largest Key Lime Pie and will be creating a 13.14 foot pie to be served at the event around 7 p.m.. The event will also include live music by Brian Roberts and American Idol finalist Kristen McNamara and a laser light show will accompany the extended fireworks display. Entrance to the event is free.
A free community concert at Coffee Butler Amphitheater in Key West featuring Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band with opening show by Nick Norman took place March 25 and included a drone light show.
Friday, May 19 - Sunset Celebration on the Old 7 Mile Bridge
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners cordially invites the public to its upcoming bicentennial Sunset Celebration, set to take place on the Old 7 Mile Bridge on May 19 from 6 p.m. to sunset. The event promises to be an unforgettable evening of music, food, and friends as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of our great county.
Henry Flagler’s Old 7 Mile Bridge is an iconic and historic landmark that spans from Marathon to Pigeon Key and is the perfect setting for this momentous occasion. Guests can enjoy a beautiful Florida Keys sunset while listening to live music by the 79th Street Band, dancing on the bridge, and savoring delicious locally inspired appetizers from Marathon High School’s culinary class and beverages from locally grown produce from Grimal Grove. The U.S. Navy will also host a flyover at 7 p.m. across the bridge. The Navy is also celebrating 200 Years in Monroe County this year. Beer and wine will be available for a charge through the Marathon Rotary.
As the sun sets at 8:05 p.m., a celebratory toast will be made to honor our past and present County commissioners for their tireless dedication to making Monroe County a great place to live, work, and play. Monroe County was the 6th county admitted into the Florida territory and used to span from Lake Okeechobee to Key West. Today, it encompasses the entire Florida Keys island chain and a mostly uninhabited region of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve on the mainland.
“We are excited to celebrate 200 years of Monroe County with our community through events like this taking place throughout the Florida Keys,” said Monroe County Commissioner Michelle Lincoln. “The sunset celebration will be a wonderful opportunity for residents and visitors to come together and enjoy an evening of fun and festivity in the Middle Keys.”
This event is open and free to the public. There will be free parking for the event with Pigeon Key’s trolley available from the City of Marathon 7 Mile Bridge Marina (the old Salty’s) and Monroe County Transit from 33rd Street Stanley Switlik school parking area. There will be no parking available at the bridge. The unofficial afterparty will take place at Overseas Pub and Grill in Marathon following sunset.
For more information, please visit www.monroecounty-fl.gov/flkeys200.
Other upcoming events to celebrate 200 years of Monroe County include the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce Sea-to-Table event on Saturday, June 10 at 6:30 p.m. (islamoradachamber.com), a free Patriotic Family Picnic taking place at Rowell’s Park on Saturday, June 17 from noon to 3 p.m., culminating in the 200 Year Firework and Laser Light Show in conjunction with Lower Keys Rotary on Monday, July 3 at 5 p.m. at Big Pine Key Community Park, when the county will attempt to regain its rightful title of having the world’s largest Key Lime Pie.
Saturday, June 17
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners are thrilled to announce the third bicentennial event of the year, which will include a picnic and fireworks display on June 17 at Rowell's Park in Key Largo. As we commemorate two centuries of history, this picnic promises to be an unforgettable experience for the whole community.
The Monroe County Bicentennial Picnic and Fireworks will kick off at 6 p.m., offering an evening filled with excitement, entertainment, and family-friendly fun. The event will showcase a magnificent fireworks display illuminating the night sky with mesmerizing colors and patterns starting around 9:15 p.m.. Attendees will witness a visual spectacle that reflects the rich heritage and vibrant spirit of Monroe County.
In addition to the fireworks celebration, the picnic will feature musical performances by two outstanding bands. The U.S. Navy Band, Pride, known for its electrifying energy, will take the stage to deliver an unforgettable show. Their blend of rock, pop, and soul will have attendees dancing and singing along throughout the evening. Joining them will be the locally loved Mangrove Swamp Band, renowned for its unique fusion of blues, country, and rockabilly. Their toe-tapping tunes and infectious energy will keep the crowd entertained and in high spirits.
The event is free for all. As part of the festivities, a wide range of fun family activities and entertainment options will be available, ensuring every family member can find something enjoyable to participate in, including various interactive games, face painting, and inflatable bounce houses. There will be complimentary hotdogs served by Monroe County Fire Rescue firefighters and mini cupcakes for attendees.
In addition, other food vendors will be available for a charge, offering delicious local cuisine. The American Legion will be serving beer and wine for a fee.
"We are thrilled to celebrate two hundred years of Monroe County's rich history with the entire community," said Mayor Pro Tem Holly Merrill Raschein. "This event promises to be an unforgettable evening, filled with entertainment, camaraderie, and a reflection on our 200 years of accomplishments."
For more information about the Monroe County Bicentennial Picnic, including the event schedule and any updates, please visit the official website at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/flkeys200 or like the event on the Monroe County BOCC Facebook page. There will be no parking available at Rowell’s Park. Free parking will be available at Key Largo School with shuttle service.
Past 200-year celebrations included a March concert and drone show in Key West and a sunset celebration on the Old 7 Mile Bridge in May. The 200-year festivities culminate with the July 3rd fireworks and laser light show in conjunction with Lower Keys Rotary at Big Pine Key Community Park, where the commissioners will attempt to regain the title of having the largest key lime pie for Monroe County. Monroe County, which at the time included the entirety of South Florida from Lake Okeechobee south to Key West, was admitted to the Florida territory on July 3, 1823.