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 too up most of yet to be 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:

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

A Patriotic Picnic community family day BBQ at Rowell's Park in Key Largo from noon to 3 p.m. featuring the U.S. Navy Rock Band and the Mangrove Swamp Band. Monroe County Fire Rescue will have its fire trucks available to spray kids with a light mist of water from the fire hoses. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be grilled by off-duty firefighters. The County Commissioners will also be dedicating the park's completion of its first phase and ground break the second phase. 

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. 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.

Past Events

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.