Awarding someone the Key to a City is an act of friendship and trust. The practice dates back to the Middle Ages. Enclosed by walls and gates, towns used guards during the day and closed the gates at night for protection. By giving a person the key to the town, the leadership of that town allowed the recipient to freely travel within and without the town.
Today, this act is largely a symbolic one, and it usually is used by city leaders as an act of appreciation or gratitude. For example, in the past few years, many athletes have received the Key to a City. Reggie Wayne, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL, received the City Key to Indianapolis in 2015. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard presented him a Key to the City for all of his contributions in the community over 14 years.
Sometimes entire athletic teams receive a Key to a City. Most recently, on July 10, 2015, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team players and coaches received keys to New York City in recognition of their 2015 Women’s World Cup victory.
A parade was organized and was the first ticker-tape parade in New York City to honor female athletes since Olympic Athletes in 1984. Other teams to receive Keys to a City include the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and Major League Baseball’s Giants. Both teams received the honor from the city of San Francisco in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
Entertainers have become popular choices to receive a Key to a City too. Singer Britney Spears obtained a Key to the City of Las Vegas in 2014 in celebration of the impact she had on Las Vegas since her residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Rapper Fetty Wap accepted the Key to the City of Paterson, New Jersey. Fetty Wap played a free concert for students at Eastside High School in Paterson New Jersey high school, so he was given a Key to the City by Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, who called Fetty Wap “an inspiration to Paterson’s youth.”
Besides singers, movie and television stars have become popular recipients. One recent example comes out of Cleveland, Ohio. The city of Cleveland gave TV stars Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Betty White Keys to the City. The four play roles in “Hot in Cleveland” a TV Land series.
Finally, national and local heroes have been awarded keys to many cities. Perhaps the most recent and well-known example is Jessica Lynch. In December 2015, the Florida cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral gave the former Iraq war veteran and POW the keys to their cities for her service to the country.
We also offer item PC530E, our Key to the City Walnut Plaque. Mounted on a 9” x 12” solid piece of blond, American Walnut, a heavy die cast key with a round head rests majestically above a black brass engraving plate. Our design team can place up to five lines of your words of appreciation on the plate. Award one to a civic-minded citizen in your city. Continue an old tradition with a modern twist by awarding one of these unique Key to the City plaques.