POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

Hemingways: Head to Key West

Hemingway look-alikes

A gathering of Hemingway look-alikes, such as this group in 2009, is an annual summer tradition in Key West. (Florida Keys News Bureau / June 23, 2012)

I could never win Sloppy Joe's Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest.

I'm pretty sure that he had better hair than I do.

Yet, somehow, as time has ravaged me, it seems that a vague Hemingway resemblance has crept into my profile. On a recent trek to the Upper Keys, I was able to exchange silent, knowing nods with other snowy-white bearded dudes. We look like we belong.


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Yeah, we're really cool guys down there.

That will be especially true again this summer, during the annual Hemingway Days from July 17-22 in Key West. This year's edition celebrates the 75th anniversary of the author's novel "To Have and Have Not." In keeping with tradition, the event again features a look-alike contest to unfold in three rounds July 19, 20 and 21 at Sloppy Joe's (201 Duval St.).

Roughly 125 contestants are expected to vie for the title. This year's field also will include the winner of a virtual contest that took place on the Florida Keys Facebook page (facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest).

The online winner will receive a trip to Key West to compete in the preliminary round at Sloppy Joe's.

Key West will be crawling with faux Hemingways, costumed in safari togs, wool fisherman's turtlenecks and other fashion statements designed to heighten the illusion. Observers can do their part to aid the suspension of disbelief by tipping a few beers at the bar.

It shouldn't take too many to make these guys frighteningly realistic.

Look-alikes also will participate in other Hemingway Days events, including a welcome party on July 18 at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort (3990 S. Roosevelt Blvd.).

The most memorable photo op for the Hemingway herd is the traditional "Running of the Bulls," a wacky salute to the annual event in Pamplona, Spain. It starts at noon on July 21, with contestants posing for pictures outside Sloppy Joe's. At 1 p.m., they join fake bulls on wheels for a short procession downtown.

There's also the Sloppy Joe's arm-wrestling challenge, at noon on July 22.

Visit sloppyjoes.com and hemingwaydays.net for details on the contest and other events to commemorate the famous author in 2012, the 113th anniversary of his birth. You also can call 1-800-527-8539.
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