One of the great traditions in Key West is the sunset celebration on Mallory Square. Every day, usually in the late afternoon just before dark the sun sets below the horizon. I know, amazing but it happens like clockwork. On the west end of Key West is Mallory Square where the large piers sit along a deep water harbor. During the day the large cruise ships dock here and let the passengers scatter about the island in search of more t-shirts and other worthless trinkets. But by about 4:00 pm or so the ships have to leave and the crowd slowly starts to gather for the daily celebration. The square is very open with parking on the north side so it can accommodate a lot of people. As sunset gets closer the vendors and entertainers show up with their wares and props towing behind them on rusty old bicycles. You need a permit and insurance to be a sunset entertainer or vendor and each one has their special spot reserved. There are the usual artists selling painted shells or hats made of palm fronds, popcorn and lemonade stands, and plenty of music. You can walk down the square and hear anything from Jimmy Buffet wannabes to jamaican reggae, to banjos to bagpipes. Then the real entertainers show up. The psychics, the bible bouncer, the jugglers, the magician, and the sword swallower. All very entertaining and all working for tips.
It has been a few years since I had been to sunset. Last time there was a real good tightrope/ juggler and a guy with some amazing trained cats. I heard the juggler was in jail for drug offenses and the cat guy hit it big out in Vegas.
As sunset itself gets closer the crowd gets larger with a goodly portion standing on the edge of the dock to get some pictures of the setting sun. Last night there where well over a thousand there. Next door is a large resort with a dining area so patrons could have dinner and watch the proceedings. Out on the water in the channel there are all manner of boats sailing by. Sunset cruises are a big business in the Keys. I used to run a simple little stand up paddle board sunset paddle complete with shrimp cocktails on the paddle boards. A lot of fun and great photo ops.
Alas, sunsets are in danger. Government funding for sunsets has dried up and there is talk of cutting back. Soon they may only have sunsets on the weekends and holidays. There is also rumors that sunsets may be moved to the east with sunrises as it is just too expensive to move the sun over the entire sky every day. There is also talk that rather than sunset, a TSA agent will simply turn the sun off at the appointed time every night just to save money. Kinda destroys the whole concept but hey, times are tough. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Here are some shots of sunset. Enjoy.