fireworks IFLORIDA KEYS — Beach-goers and boating enthusiasts can flock to the sparkling waters surrounding the Florida Keys during the annual Independence Day celebrations along the 110-mile chain of islands.

Throughout the Keys, beachside fun for families coincides with spectacular fireworks shows.

Blackwater Sound provides a mirror-like surface designed to make the annual fireworks display seem like a 3-D viewing experience from either land or sea. The show is to take place bayfront in Key Largo at 9 p.m. Monday, July 4. The best seating is at Sundowners and Señor Frijoles restaurants, the Caribbean Club and Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort, all located around mile marker (MM) 104 bayside. Reservations are suggested because seating fills up early. For more information, visit www.keylargofireworks.com.

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The Upper Keys Reporter is to sponsor its 36th annual Fourth of July parade, this year themed “Flagler’s Railroad to the Sea.” The Reporter partners with the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce on the parade, which gets rolling at 10 a.m. from the parking lot at Anthony’s Clothing Store, MM 98.2 on the center median of U.S. Highway 1 in Key Largo. Entrants must assemble in the parking lot between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Awards are to be presented to floats and entries in categories including best emergency vehicle, best musical, most original, most beautiful, best portrayal of this year’s theme, best nonprofit and best business parade entrants. For more details, call 305-852-3216 or e-mail mwhisenhunt@keysreporter.com

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fireworks IIBefore the lively procession, a “Stay Ahead Of The Parade” 5k Run is planned and open to the public. Sponsored by the Upper Keys Reporter, Upper Keys YMCA and Centennial Bank, the event is to benefit summer camp scholarships for junior marine biology and literacy initiatives. The race is expected to start at 9:45 a.m. Participants can pre-register at the YMCA office and Key Largo Community Park (MM 100), or choose 8-9 a.m. registration on race day. For more information, contact Joyia Montanez at 305-896-4956.

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Independence Day at Islamorada’s Holiday Isle, MM 84 oceanside, is expected to include live music at Kokomo and the Tiki Bar along with food, fun and frolicking. Revelers can plan for festivities to start at 2 p.m. and carry on into the night.

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Founders Park, MM 87 on Plantation Key, is the site of “Spirit of Islamorada,” an old-fashioned annual July 4 celebration hosted by the Village of Islamorada and the Upper Keys Rotary Club. Entertainment and activities for kids, teens, parents and dogs highlight the event from 6 to 9:30 p.m., with a fireworks show to follow. Planned activities include contests for best apple pie and potato salad, a “Nathans” hot dog eating contest and other food, refreshments and beer. Event proceeds benefit local scholarship funds, Boy Scouts and athletic programs.

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All Islamorada residents and visitors are welcome to attend. Guests staying at participating resorts are to receive wristbands for free admission to the event at 6 p.m.  A $10 admission fee applies for nonresidents not staying at a participating hotel. For more information, visit Spirit of Islamorada on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-of-Islamorada-2010-Fireworks-at-Founders-Park/115710398653).

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In Marathon, a patriotic parade is slated to start at 10:30 a.m. at Marathon High School on Sombrero Beach Road (MM 50 oceanside) and proceed to Sombrero Beach where a picnic and celebration featuring food and drink, kids’ crafts and entertainment lead into the night’s fireworks display. Marathon is known as the Boating Destination of the Keys, and hundreds of boaters typically line up for front-row seats at the beach for the festivities and fireworks. For more information, call the Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 305-743-5417.

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The Big Pine & Lower Keys Rotary Club’s annual July 4 fireworks are to take place at Sugarloaf Airport, MM 17 bayside on Sugarloaf Key, adjacent to the quirky Bat Tower. Live music headlined by Brian Roberts and the Prime Movers, food and ice-cold beverages are to be accompanied by games and activities for both adults and kids. A “longer and larger” fireworks show is set to begin at nightfall, or about 9 p.m. Admission is free but no coolers, pets or personal fireworks are to be allowed. Gates open at 5 p.m. For more information, call Cece at 305-766-8467.

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Key West’s 27th annual July 4 picnic is to take place on the grounds of the luxurious Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, located at 1500 Reynolds St. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Benefiting Hospice of the Florida Keys and the Visiting Nurse Association, the popular celebration starts at 5 p.m. Fireworks over the Atlantic are slated for 9 p.m., courtesy of the Key West Rotary Club.

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The traditional buffet offers hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings for $25 per adult, $10 per child ages 3-12 and free for children younger than 3. General admission (no meal) tickets are $10. For an elegant alternative, attendees can choose reserved beachfront seats with first-class service and a lavish buffet for $100 per person. Free watermelon, popcorn and cold drinks, live music, a silent auction and lots of children’s games round out the fun-filled family festivities. For information about the VNA/Hospice benefit picnic, call 305-294-8812 or visit www.hospicevna.com.

Events information: www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents

Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com

Social: www.facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest • www.twitter.com/thefloridakeyswww.youtube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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