on August 28, 2008
Interestingly enough I had visited Key West two times prior to ever making it to Mallory Square. Of course I know this is listed as a main tourist attraction and I should have done it the first time there, but I never seemed to make it past the shops on Duval Street during my free-time in the evenings; one of the perils of business travel to vacation destinations I suppose.On my third trip I made a point to go down to the square one evening and I certainly did not regret it. There was quite the scene; street performers, food carts, souvenir stands, and tourists everywhere. Everyone comes here in eager anticipation of seeing the best view of the sunset from the land that lays claim to having the most beautiful ones in the world.Mallory Square gets so jam-packed with people about an hour before the sunset that it is difficult to maneuver around the crowds. I went during Spring Break which I suppose is a popular time, but the density of the crowd reminded me of something I had only experienced at South Boston’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The sobriety of the crowd in Mallory Square might have been likened to the St. Pat’s Day Parade as well; many rowdy folks, but mostly well-behaved.The street performers that perform acts in Mallory Square are indeed sights to see themselves. There’s a fire-eater, a juggler, one that performs with domestic house cats, one that performs with dogs, and several magicians of various types. At any given time one or two acts are occurring, and usually one starts right up after another finishes. It is encouraged that you tip the performers at the end of their act- my favorite thing was when one of the performer’s dogs went around collecting the tips from the crowd by taking cash out of people’s hands and putting it in his bucket around his neck. I have never seen anything like it.Food venders and several restaurants dot Mallory Square and make this an ideal place for tourists to grab dinner and take in the scene. It looked to me that all the restaurants in the area required some sort of reservation, but the vendors and stands were readily available to sell ice cream, hot dogs, fried dough, and various other snacking or dinner items.Everyday is a party in Mallory Square centered around the greatest performance of all- the sunset. Around twenty or thirty minutes before the sun dips below the horizon it starts displaying fantastic color changes that light up the entire sky. The horizon beyond Mallory Square is just beautiful. Several islands dot the endless expanse of Gulf water and this makes for a beautiful backdrop for the ethereal colors of the sky. I really didn’t get why everybody made such a big deal about a Key West sunset until I saw it for myself firsthand. Pictures could never do this light show justice.
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