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  • Writer's pictureMel Dick

Green Parrot and Ryder.

Key West has it's share of famous watering holes and one of the most iconic, eclectic, boisterous and historic is the Green Parrot Bar. Unlike most of the bars on Duval Street, the Green Parrot is located in a residential area with a long and storied history. Today it's an hangout of locals and tourists alike with a great happy hour and hours from 10 am until 4 am.

Located in a former 1890 grocery store that catered primarily to Cuban and Bahamian transplants whose descendants still make up a large part of the local population. Back in the day, the locals accompanied their staples of rice and beans with rum, cigars and infectious Latin rhythms in the grocery's small back room where local musicians entertained with impromptu jam sessions. After the Great Depression of the 1930s and the beginning of World War II the grocery store became the Brown Derby Bar, an air-conditioned hangout for submarine sailors stationed at the base a block away. The navy pulled out in the 1970s and Key West became a haven for hippies, bikers, vagabonds and free spirits of all kinds. The bar was renamed the Green Parrot Bar and rapidly became an open-air hipster watering hole frequented by every walk of life. In the 1980s the Green Parrot started featuring live music and today, it is recognized as one of the best bar music venues in the country.

The building, outside and inside, is adorned with wooden art, probably the most famous is Smirk, who has graced the place for 40 years. Smirk was an attempt by the then-owner to dress up the place. It was painted by a former Green Parrot bartender and was inspired by a 1974 photo in the National Geographic article titled "The England of Charles Dickens" depicting the "fair-skinned and flaxen-haired female student", Smirk.

Off to pick up my daughter Hillary and her family. Can't wait to see Ryder, our 18 month old granddaughter.

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