Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

Just as with FantasyFest in October, there seems to be steps that locals go through regarding celebrating New Year's eve in Key West:

1: Your first year you go all out (and then suffer the consequences);

2: Your second year you've learned, and do it in moderation;

3: Your third year you leave it for the tourists and hardcore locals.

This was my first, so I knew it was probably gonna be a wild one. It was.

In Key West there are several different areas where people are celebrating. In the 'not that there's anything wrong with that' district there is a large red shoe that drops at midnite, carrying a transvestite. At the historic seaport area, there is a wench that drops down the mast of an old schooner. At Duval and Greene Streets there is a conch shell that drops onto the roof above Sloppy Joe's, along with thousands and thousands of revelers in the street. We chose Sloppy Joe's.

My friend Tony was in town visiting. We waited until about 10:30 before making our way to Duval Street - we knew it was going to be a long night, no need to start too early. Little did we know just how long the night would be.

Across Duval from Sloppy Joe's is Capt Tony's Saloon, which was easier to get in/out of than SJ's, so first we went there and got a couple of drinks. I was standing just outside the bathroom door taking a picture of the band when someone bolted out in a hurry, slamming the door into my head HARD. I shook it off as no big deal, but the next morning I had a souvenir bump to remind me of Capt Tony's. It took a few hours to remember where it came from, but really that was par for the Jan 1 course.

We celebrated in the streets with the mob until about 12:30 or 1, watching all the fireworks and bubbles and confetti, then went inside SJ's to join their party. We proceeded to close them down, finally leaving sometime after 4 AM. During those 3 hours I'm told a lot of stuff happened, some of which I remember and some of which I'll just have to assume is true. Keys Disease.

Walking back to where we were staying should have taken all of about 15 minutes (5 or 6 blocks). After about 45 minutes it became clear I wasn't the guide I thought I was. Tony finally got frustrated and struck out on his own, and despite being from out of town he found it before I did. 30 minutes later I (accidentally) found my way there. So, finally, at 5:30 we put the night to sleep just as the sun was starting to wake itself up.

I think next year I'll go right to step 3 and watch it on TV. Keys Disease indeed.

Happy New Year!

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