Key West Florida is a destination ideally suited for the Hemingways, misfits and anti-authoritarians of the world. It’s a place where parties are a daily business, where mojo and moxi collide with the most delightful results. It’s my kind of place.
The southern most point in the contiguous 48 United States, Key West is one of the best places in the world to celebrate while watching the sunset. The nightly party at Mallory Square while watching the sun disappear below the Gulf of Mexico is one of life’s most memorable events.
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With its nose stuck out there in the Gulf of Mexico, Key West is in an attractive position for drug smugglers and other shady business folks to come ashore with their wares.
The Birth of the Conch Republic in Key West
So, in April 1982, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) decided it would be a good idea to install a check-point on Highway 1A and search all vehicles leaving for mainland Florida. The problem is, Highway 1A is the only highway off the island. Within minutes of the check-point opening, traffic started backing up on Key West.
As the traffic jams got longer, word got out. Tourists started to watch the sun set elsewhere. Since tourism and sunsets are the primary industries in Key West, community leaders did the only thing that responsible leaders could do in such a situation.
They declared war on the
United States of America
Key West Secedes from the Union
On the night of April 23, these modern day John Paul Joneses sailed out of the harbor and attacked a U.S Coast Guard vessel with water balloons and conch fritters. At dawn’s early light, right on the streets of Key West, a U.S. Navy Admiral was attacked with a loaf of stale Cuban bread. He was beaten severely around the belly until he surrendered on behalf of the United States. The DEA removed its traffic stop and the victorious Conch Republic was born.
It’s not a story you’ll often read in history books or on credible websites. However, I learned of it from a most credible source — Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic.
Pledging Allegiance to the Conch Republic in Key West
Now, I must admit that Mr. Secretary General had been heartily celebrating the latest sunset when I caught up with him at the Schooner Wharf Bar & Grill. My notes from our meeting are filled with illegible scribbles about marine grade toilet paper and the latest scandal involving the Ministry of Sobriety and Olfactory Affairs.
Additionally, he was burdened by the necessity of raising funds for the Conch Republic. Apparently a fiscal cliff was in the near future. But after further consumption of the evening’s festivities, Mr. Secretary decided that the best course of action would be to throw a party the next evening as the sun set and assume that everything else would simply take care of itself.
Now that’s a politician I think we can all get support, no matter the color of our state or our state of mind.
Note: Re-enactments of the Battle for the Conch Republic takes place every year on April 23, and several times in between, whenever the mood strikes Mr. Secretary General and other esteemed leaders of this farce nation.