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As is our custom at the start of each Hurricane season, a new devotional candle has been placed in the small handmade wooden cabinet next to the Benjamin Franklin shutter just inside the Parrot’s front door.

The candle, the centerpiece of The Green Parrot Hurricane Preparedness Kit   sits ready to be whisked off to The Grotto at St.Mary’s on a moment’s notice.



Long-time patron Bruce Rounds, known to his Key West friends as Colby,( he was known as Bruce Rounds when he was the Speaker of The House in the New Hampshire Legislature in the 1980’s) created the Official Green Parrot Hurricane Preparedness Kit in 2004 after a flurry of storms left Green Parrot patrons,  and Key Westers in general, shaken and clearly in need of a more specific, albeit more devotional and intercessional plan of action. Thus was born Colby’s official Green Parrot Hurricane Preparedness Kit



Colby’s succinct plan of action.

Colby is pictured here,  on one of his frequent visits the bar, checking to be sure the kit is properly supplied with a St. Jude Votive Candle and matches, with instructions cleary defined, and incidentally have a vodka tonic or two. 




St.Jude, for those not familiar with “The Lives of The Saints” is the patron saint of Key West and also the patron saint of hopeless causes, a seemingly perfect fit for the many souls that find themselves here at the end of the line, at the end of their rope, having simply run out of road. .




It should be noted that Colby’s New Official Green Parrot Hurricane Preparedness Kit supplanted the Old Green Parrot Hurricane Preparedness Kit which consisted solely of the wrinkled, dog-eared, unframed poster pictured above, torn from the back page of a long-gone Key West periodical, The Bone Island Press.


By way of explanation the Grotto the kits references is Key West’s Hurricane Grotto at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church. The stone shrine, which sits behind the church on Truman Avenue was built in 1922 by Sister M. Louis Gabriel and her fellow nuns in memory of the 600 who died during the great Atlantic-Gulf hurricane of Sept. 10, 1919, a Category 4 hurricane that made a direct hit on Key West. 

Sister Gabriel blessed the grotto and vowed, “As long as the Grotto stands, Key West will never experience the full brunt of a hurricane.” Key West residents regularly make pilgrimages to the grotto to light candles and pray for protection from hurricanes and so far, the grotto has worked–no Key West resident has died from a hurricane strike since the 1919 hurricane.
I would like to add that this post was made with the utmost reverence and respect for the Church of St. Mary Star of the Sea and Our Blessed Mother.