Ernest Hemingway look-alikes are being used by the Florida Keys tourism council to encourage visitors and residents to wear masks to protect against COVID-19.
The men, a former winner and five regular contestants in Key West’s annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, appear in a short video that debuted Monday evening on Keys’ social media outlets, urging compliance with coronavirus health protocols.
“We look at Key West as being our adopted town,” said longtime contest entrant Dusty Rhodes in the video. “Help keep it safe. Wear your mask, socially distance, wash your hands.”
The piece was shot in front of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a hangout for Hemingway, a Key West icon, when he lived and wrote on the island for most of the 1930s. The look-alikes wear masks over their signature white beards.
The video is part of the Keys tourism council’s ongoing “Play It Safe” video series promoting personal responsibility and health protective measures to combat the global pandemic.
The look-alikes have a good reason for encouraging masking and other safety practices: COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 40th annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s last July. Organizers were concerned about staging the event amid packed crowds it would likely draw.
“And what would Papa say?” asked Joe Maxey, the contest’s 2019 winner, near the video’s conclusion.
“Wear your mask!” the look-alikes implore in unison.