More than two decades ago, great American sculptor John Martini, whose Key West studio was just around the corner from The Green Parrot, would frequent The Parrot to quench his thirst after long, late-night sessions creating metal sculptures. He came, too, looking to recruit for his projects some of the able-bodied, often elusive skilled tradesmen known to take their afternoon breaks over frosty libations at the Parrot.
One of the things that came out of Martini’s search for skilled laborers was the creation and eventual installation in 1994 of an 8-foot iron sculpture that still hangs in The Green Parrot entitled, Where’s Jimbo and the Other Giants of the Building Trade?
Featuring abstract figures with a plumber’s wrench, a carpenter, electrician, female painter, and a roofer (or as Rockin’ Robin reminds us again in the comments section below: Once again, the featured tradesman isn’t a “roofer”, but a dry waller. Roofers don’t wear stilts and Drywall Rick was the “giant” at Lucky Street Gallery when it was still on Duval), it has, over time, recognizably become what the Parrot oft represents — a bar that has been “Keeping the Working Men and Women of Key West Lubricated Since 1890”.
On that installation day in March 1994, what began as just another Parrot party became the first Tradesman’s Appreciation Day–a day we dedicated specifically to the working men and women of Key West. Eighteen years later, the Green Parrot will celebrate its 18th Annual Tradesman’s Appreciation Day on Friday, September 21, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
To mark the occasion, we issued laminated Tradesman and Tradeswoman Passes, complete with name, photo, occupation and authorization. Even visiting President Jimmy Carter got one. And rambling Key West tradesmen and tradeswomen began using the card as their photo ID!
This year, our observation of Tradesman Appreciation Day falls on September 21, again the same day as National Tradesman Day commemorated by tool manufacturer Irwin Tools. We will unveil a proclamation by Key West Mayor Craig Cates officially declaring September 21 Tradesman Appreciation Day in Key West and we will continue to celebrate with the issuance of the once-infamous cards along with a special widescreen viewing of rare archival footage from the first Tradesman’s Day celebration held 18 years ago.
Over the years we are happy to see that what we thought was our homegrown has evolved, with the help, generosity and vision of people like Irwin Tools, into a National Day of thanks to all those men and women who get up every morning with one goal in mind, “To get the job done”.