Hemingway look-alikes urge mask-wearing in Florida Keys

Past winners of the "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike contest in Key West. (Florida Keys News Bureau, WPLG)

KEY WEST, Fla. – Ernest Hemingway look-alikes are being used by the Florida Keys tourism council to encourage visitors and residents to wear masks to protect against COVID-19.

The men, a former winner and five regular contestants in Key West’s annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, appear in a short video that debuted Monday evening on Keys’ social media outlets, urging compliance with coronavirus health protocols.

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“We look at Key West as being our adopted town,” said longtime contest entrant Dusty Rhodes in the video. “Help keep it safe. Wear your mask, socially distance, wash your hands.”

The piece was shot in front of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a hangout for Hemingway, a Key West icon, when he lived and wrote on the island for most of the 1930s. The look-alikes wear masks over their signature white beards.

Play It Safe in the Florida Keys

What would Ernest "Papa" Hemingway say? Some members of the famed author's Look-Alike Society share how visitors to the #FloridaKeys and #KeyWest can play it safe. For updated COVID-19 visitor guidelines, visit fla-keys.com.

Posted by The Florida Keys & Key West on Monday, January 11, 2021

The video is part of the Keys tourism council’s ongoing “Play It Safe” video series promoting personal responsibility and health protective measures to combat the global pandemic.

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 40th annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s last July. Organizers were concerned about staging the event amid packed crowds it would likely draw.

“And what would Papa say?” asked Joe Maxey, the contest’s 2019 winner, near the video’s conclusion.

“Wear your mask!” the look-alikes implore in unison.

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