Looking Like Papa: Ohio Man Takes Hemingway Prize
[caption id="attachment_16623" align="aligncenter" width="187" caption="Denny Woods of Buckeye Lake, Ohio, kisses a bust of Ernest Hemingway Saturday, just after he bested 117 other contestants at the "Papa" Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Fla. The annual competition was a highlight event of the annual Hemingway Days Festival that ended Sunday. Photo by Andy Newman."]...
KEY WEST — A cream-colored fisherman’s sweater, a ruddy complexion and a white beard earned a 62-year-old retired policeman top honors in the final round of the “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight event of Key West’s annual Hemingway Days Festival that ended Sunday.
Captain Denny Woods of Buckeye Lake, Ohio, bested 117 other “Papa” wannabes in the competition, staged Saturday night at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite Key West watering hole during his residency on the island throughout the 1930s.
Bearded look-alike contenders from all over the United States donned sportsman’s attire to showcase their resemblance to Hemingway. Many were repeat contenders who brought large cheering sections to influence the judging panel of previous look-alike winners including Carlie Coley of Alma, Ga., the 2000 winner.
Woods, who shares a love of being on the water with Hemingway, earned the title “captain” from his years of boating on Ohio’s Buckeye Lake. A five-time look-alike competitor, he offered several theories to explain his success, before a rowdy audience.
“It might have been the sweater, it might have been the thousand people I brought from Ohio to back me up, or it might have been the hundred-dollar bills I left on the judges’ table,” he said following his win.
Despite his physical resemblance to Hemingway and the many detailed reports he wrote as a police officer, Woods has no literary aspirations.
“Several of my friends have told me I should write a book,” he said, “but some of my other friends said I really shouldn’t.”
Nobel prize-winner Hemingway authored some of his most successful works, including “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “To Have and Have Not” and “Snows of Kilimanjaro,” while living in the Spanish-colonial house on Whitehead Street.
When he wasn’t writing, he fished for marlin off the Florida Keys and
patronized Sloppy Joe’s; activities that helped create the “Papa” persona
that continues today, 40 years following his death in 1961.
Other Hemingway Days festival highlights included a fishing tournament, an offbeat “Running of the Bulls,” literary readings and a short story competition directed by the author’s granddaughter, writer Lorian Hemingway.
The 2002 festival is slated for July 17-21. More details on the festival and the Florida Keys and Key West may be obtained at www.fla-keys.com.