Then-Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody presented a key to the city to former City Commissioner Ken Shelin earlier this year.

Then-Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody presented a key to the city to former City Commissioner Ken Shelin earlier this year.

What do Carol Burnett, the Albanian ambassador to the U.S. and restaurateur Michael Klauber, co-owner of Michael’s on East, have in common?

They all have a key to the city of Sarasota. Of the three, Klauber claims the greatest connection to the local community. He lives, works and gives back here. But, we've learned, that that has little to do with why someone receives a key.

Earlier this month, Mayor Erik Arroyo presented renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce Gracie with a key to the city and we wrote about it. As cool as it was to have a sports celebrity in town, I couldn't help but wonder: What does it take to get invited to City Hall and presented with a key to the city, and why haven't I received one yet?

A city spokesperson described giving a key as "a symbolic gesture to honor the recipient and signifies he or she is welcome in Sarasota." But how do they get picked? Any city commissioner, not just the mayor, can make the call, according to the spokesperson.

Facebook post of a key to the city presentation ceremony.

A Facebook post from the City of Sarasota.

Just last month, newly installed Mayor Arroyo presented a key to outgoing Mayor Hagen Brody, kicking off a new tradition recognized when the title of mayor is passed from one city commissioner to another. You would think that being an elected official is inherent evidence of being welcome in the city, but the key confirms it, plus it makes for a fun photo opp.

Other stars who hold the key to the City of Sarasota include Kenny Rogers, Ringo Starr and Patti Labelle. Lesser household name recipients include doctors and politicians. Made of zinc, the keys to the city are made locally and don’t actually open anything. Still, I'd like one.

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