Duval Street in Key West, ordinarily brimming with tourists and bar hoppers on any given night, was quiet Monday as Hurricane Ian slowly made its way toward the Florida Keys.
Only a few groups of visitors walked up and down the famous street. Most businesses were closed — some in the process of boarding up.
Ones that stayed open, like Willie T’s at 525 Duval, did good business, with tourists and locals alike grabbing some drinks or a bite to eat — the former, mostly.
Ryan Henry flew down from Baltimore, Maryland, Saturday to celebrate his 50th birthday with his wife Emily and friends Denise and Clay Supensky.
“Now we’re stranded in Key West,” Denise Supensky said, not seeming to mind whether or not her return flight scheduled for Tuesday would proceed as planned.
“Now we’re at the mercy of the airline,” Ryan Henry added, also not too concerned if Ian forced him to have one more day of vacation.
On the Overseas Highway heading down to Key West, there seemed to be as many cars parked on the elevated approaches to the bridges that connect the 120 miles of road as there were driving.
Locals park their cars there in anticipation of hurricanes to save them from the corrosive saltwater surge the storms often bring.
In Key West, the weather remained calm most of the night, with more of Ian’s rain bands beginning to show up after 10 p.m.
Outside of 801 Bourbon Bar on Duval Street, popular for its nightly drag shows, performer Marilyn Daniels sat on a stool outside talking with friends.
Daniels, 57, has lived in Key West since 1987 and said she’s never once evacuated for oncoming hurricanes.
Daniels also didn’t mind that business was slower than usual.
“This is how it is in Key West. When we have stuff like this, the locals support each other. The ones that stay know we’re open for business,” Daniels said. “We make enough to pay our bar tabs, and, we get to provide a little relief from the stress that comes from being in a storm.”