Although Key West is typically regarded as a prime Spring Break destination, there's so much more to the tropical paradise that shines in its rich, sun-drenched splendor. Indeed, Key West is a place of art, heritage, timeless culture, and endless natural beauty. And at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, a special Academia Hernando presentation will reveal the secrets of this Florida jewel.
Key West-Pirates, Patriots, and Painters will be the next presentation of Academia Hernando, a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization that seeks to inform, educate and inspire adult learners in this area through a series of weekly lectures, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd. in Spring Hill.
"While most people see Key West as a party destination, the tiny island on the edge of North America has a rich history, and its reputation as a party destination is only one part of the picture," states an event description. "Key West didn't become a tourist mecca overnight...it took planning and government assistance. Cathy Salustri will lead you through Key West's early days, and into the Key West of today."
Noted travel writer Salustri, who draws much of her inspiration from her inspired 5,000-mile road trip across the American south, will introduce guests to the real Key West--as seen through the eyes of an expert. She chronicles her journeys at the greatfloridaroadtrip.com and https://cathysalustri.com/.
Some of Salustri’s other works include the travel narrative Backroads of Paradise, which chronicles her adventures retracing WPA-era Florida driving tours from the 1939 WPA Florida guide. And her next book, tentatively titled The Florida Spectacular is underway. Her resume includes former arts & entertainment editor at Creative Loafing Tampa. She says that she lives in Gulfport with her husband Barry, two hounds, two cats, and, most likely, a frog the cats brought in as a present no one has discovered yet.
Her Jan. 26 presentation marks Salustri's return to the Academia Hernando stage, where she presented the program The Great Florida Road Trip in October 2020.
For this Academia Hernando program, Salustri takes guests on a tour of one of the most exotic destinations discovered in the Sunshine State.
"Everyone thinks of parties and Duval Street when they think of Key West," she said, "but there's so much more to the city – including how a government experiment created that ever-famous party atmosphere."
Salustri's knowledge of and love for her subject makes her an ideal Academia Hernando subject, says board member Sharon Printz.
"Cathy's excitement about and enthusiasm for Florida history, and the people filling that history, enable her to deliver amazing presentations," said Printz.
The Academia Hernando adult education program, which claims its origins as a division of the learning in retirement unit of the University of South Florida and originally was called "Mondays in Brooksville." Incorporated as a 501(c) 3 domestic non-profit business Nov. 18, 2010, Academia Hernando this year features an itinerary of nine guest speakers/educators. The program is overseen by board President Marge Griffin; booking is conducted by Sharon Printz and Mickey Mandel, board members of Academia Hernando, backed by a board that provides speaking leads and other valuable support.
Other upcoming Academia Hernando presentations will include The Colorful Life of Georgia O'Keeffe, Friday, Mar. 5 at 10 a.m., by Nan Colton. A Mystery Excursion will round out this year's schedule Friday, March 12.
All presentations will be conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines in a theater booked to half capacity. Masks will be worn by all audience members, who will be socially distanced from one another and the stage. Hand sanitizer will be available.
An Academia Hernando series subscription is $70 per person and includes all lectures and a Mystery Excursion for subscribers only. For more information, visit www.academiahernando.org or call 352-515-0300 or 352-686-4035. Advance registration is strongly recommended, but walk in visitors are invited to attend at a cost of $10 per presentation if space is available.