In Key West, it's the party before the storm

People remaining in Key West did what they know best: They threw a party

wilma surf 88 (photo credit: )
wilma surf 88
(photo credit: )
In other, more conventional places, a frustrated, anxious populace might react differently to tension. But in the face of Hurricane Wilma, many of the people who chose to remain in Key West did what they know best Saturday: They threw a party. Wilma was expected to pass by the island town early Monday, and many residents boarded up and headed for the Florida mainland after mandatory evacuations were issued. But a happy, hearty remaining few hit the streets for a pub crawl that turned into an impromptu parade of drag queens, pirates, dressed-up dogs and other costumed revelers. It's the only way many know to deal with the tension, heightened by huge media coverage of the approaching storm. "Frankly, we're tired of the stress," said "Sir" Peter Anderson, who refers to himself as secretary general of the Conch Republic, the name the city chose when it tried to secede from the country a few years back. Anderson blew a conch shell to kick off the parade. Despite mandatory evacuation orders, police seemed to mostly look the other way. Officials appeared resigned to the fact that, when you live in a party town, it's hard to simply turn off the party. Several Key West residents say they have made their preparations and had several hours left before they needed to start dealing with the storm. "We're adults, we know what we're doing," Anderson said. "This is just our way of lightening things up. We're stressed, we're tired, we need to have some fun."
More about:Key West