In Key West, I found a place where its quirky aspects made it very memorable amidst all the sailboats, warm and breezy tropical conditions, outdoor cafes lining the city’s main drag Duvall Street, where the words “I’ll have Key Lime Pie” are uttered over and over. The following aspects resonated more with me than the typical tourist quest to find “Margaritaville.”
Why did the Key West Chickens cross the road?
I soon found out while walking in Old Town that one doesn’t just share sidewalks with droves of locals and tourists wearing shorts (whether they look good in them or not), but many other two-footed creatures who have ditched their short shorts altogether — chickens. While these fowl have been around for almost two centuries, their numbers especially grew in the 1950s after Cubans fleeing their homeland brought them for use in cock fighting and food consumption.
Chickens multiplied over time after cock fighting was outlawed and grocery stores provided easier access to eggs and poultry. The roosters don’t just crow with the sunrise either, as I found out at 2;30 a.m. in my hotel room. Nonetheless, there’s been an uneasy tolerance for the chickens’ presence here because they do feast on pesky insects, even though they have irritated many locals because of where they choose to poop, trespass, etc. This has resulted in various plans and schemes to deal with them over the years in what’s been called the “Great Key West Chicken Controversy” or “Key West Chicken Wars.”