Singing in the Square


I can’t think of too many more beautiful sights than watching the sunset in Key West. And Mallory Square is the one place where everyone goes to see the show. I first learned this from watching the buddy cop movie Running Scared in the 1980s, and a week ago I finally got to experience it for myself. I hope that everyone reading this will have a chance to do so at some point in their future.

My brother-in-law and I had spent the day walking up and down Duval Street and soaking up the Key West vibe. We smoked cigars (much to our daughters’ chagrin) and marveled at our good fortunes to be in such a beautiful place. As the sun was beginning to set, we made our way to the square for the sunset celebration (and that is exactly what they call it).

A number of buskers and street performers add a carnival-like atmosphere to the celebration. As my brother-in-law and I were looking for a place to watch, we heard an elderly calypso singer asking for volunteers. We decided to answer the call, with the knowledge that he would have rather had two pretty girls volunteer, instead. And there sure are enough of them in Mallory Square, too.

To his credit, the singer indicated that he’d work with any volunteers he could get, and two small children–one boy of about five, and one girl of about seven–also volunteered, along with one other middle-aged guy who might have been their father. He positioned his background singers around a microphone, and told us we would be singing along to “Day O,” which was made famous by Harry Belafonte. We sang the “daylight come and me wan’ go home” line, and so far as I know we did a good job. There was no shortage of people photographing and videotaping the performance, and being a part of it pushed the experience to a whole new level.

When it was finished, we thanked the singer and moved on to watch the sun finally go down. Our family was elsewhere and didn’t get to see our performance, but that’s all right. The carnival goes on with different players every night, and no two sunsets can ever be the same. So long as people appreciate nature’s beauty, and want to experience it in the company of others, there will be songs to sing in Mallory Square.

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