It was 80 years ago, on Sept. 2, 1935, the fiercest storm (even today) to hit North America, came ashore in Islamorada, wreaking death and destruction from Tavernier to Duck Key. The event marks a significant period in the life of the Upper Keys, a time that should never be forgotten. For the 80th anniversary, Keys History & Discovery Center brings together the history of the storm, the impact on the families and lives lost, as well as lessons learned and the vulnerability of our island chain.
The commemoration of the storm is over two nights, Sept. 2 and 8, with the showing of documentaries and three impressive speakers.
For Wednesday, Sept. 2 the schedule is as follows:
4 p.m. – Storm of the Century and the March of the Bonus Marchers documentaries to air in the theater.
5:30 p.m. – History of the Florida Keys Memorial presented by Historian Jerry Wilkinson, who reveals the untold history of the Florida Keys Memorial.
6:30 p.m. – The Florida Keys: Still Vulnerable by Local 10 Hurricane Specialist Max Mayfield, who focuses on the current vulnerabilities of the Keys and technological advancements of the National Weather Service making heeding warnings a necessity.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Discovery Center is Bringing History to Life. Join Curator Brad Bertelli and Vanessa Lafaye, author of Under a Dark Summer Sky, for an enlightening conversation. A Florida native, Lafaye has fictionalized the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in her debut novel, Under a Dark Summer Sky. She has lived in England for the past 30 years but was drawn to write about her home state when she discovered the story of the storm and its place in Florida’s history.
Lafaye and Bertelli discuss the challenges and techniques of bringing history to life using only the written word: the research processes, the writer’s thought processes and methods, and the special responsibilities and constraints that come with writing about real events. The evening provides fascinating insights into the world of historical fiction, for readers, aspiring writers, and those with an interest in the events portrayed in the book. Doors open at 5 p.m., conversation begins at 6 p.m.
Reservations are suggested for both nights’ presentations and can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of the Keys History & Discovery Center are free. Cost for non-members is $25 and includes admission to the exhibit as well as light appetizers. A cash bar will be available.or
The Discovery Center is in Islamorada, MM 82, located at the Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost. The Center is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $12. Admission for seniors is $10 and children 13-under are free.