Key West ends hurricane seasons by burning warning flags

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — A small group of Florida Keys residents marked end of the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season by dousing hurricane warning flags with rum and burning them during a waterfront ceremony.

The Monday event included remembering people still recovering from hurricanes that battered parts of the Caribbean, Central America and the U.S.

According to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration data, the 2020 season was the most active on record. It included 30 named storms, with 13 hurricanes.

Speakers also gave thanks that the Keys escaped significant impacts during the turbulent season, despite Eta crossing the Upper Keys early Nov. 9 as a tropical storm.

The event began with a blast blown on a conch shell, a symbol of the Florida Keys. It ended with the hurricane flags being consumed by flames as participants, wearing masks to comply with local COVID-19 mandates, cheered and applauded.

The ceremony was held beside the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham, a maritime museum docked at Key West’s Truman Waterfront. The event capped the Florida Keys’ Conch Republic Independence Celebration that salutes the island chain’s colorful alter ego.

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