Monday, June 27, 2011

The Conch Republic: Tee-Hee-Hee

     The Conch Republic is if you will pardon the expression a "micronation" that was formed as a "tongue-in-cheek secession by the City of Key West on April23, 1982.     Though it is said to have been a "tongue-in-cheek" secession, there were very serious issues that motivated the action.     It was originally motivated by a roadblock setup by the U.S. Border Patrol at the "Last Chance Saloon"in Florida City that was a major inconvenience  to the residents and definitely driving the tourists away.     The tourists and residents alike were very frustrated as the Border patrolmen would search under seats, in trunks, and glove boxes fro"illegal aliens".     This roadblock caused a 17 mile traffic back-up and had the Keys paralyzed.     The media started a series of stories about this unpresidented action by the Border Patrol within the United States.

     The Owner of the Last Chance Saloon, Skeeter Davis call his friend Mayor Dennis Wardlow of Key West to let him know what was going on there in Florida City.     The community leaders gathered around the Mayor to discuss what could be done to solve the problem that was chocking the life out of an infant tourism industry in Key West.     As a result of the meeting the "legal" route was chosen to solve the problem.   They, Mayor Wardlow, Dave Horan, and Ed Swift got aboard Dave Horan's plane and flew to Miami Federal Court.     The Federal Court refused to enjoin the Border Patrol's from treating the Keys "like a foreign country".    Upon leaving the court room they were met a a mass of media that were screaming at the Mayor " what are you going to do"?    Ed Swift leaned over to Mayor Dennis Wardlow and told him to "tell them "We are going to go home and Secede" and that is exactly what Mayor Wardlow told the press.

    The press followed Dennis and his entourage back to Key West as the news of the Mayor's intentions hit the papers, and the broadcast media.   There was a rumor that the American Flag had been lowered and the Conch Republic Flag raised in ti's place, there were a goodly number of people that were very upset by the events.    After a load of calls had pour into the Mayor's office, a compromise was reached  that the Conch Republic Flag would be flown below the American Flag.

     With the city filled with Federal Agents, Mayor Dennis Wardlow climbed aboard the back of a flatbed truck in front of the Old Customs Building in Clinton Square and delivered the Proclamation to the crowd that had gathered.

Mayor Wardlow's Proclamation

     After the reading of the Proclamation, the new "Prime Minister" declared war on the United States and members of the new government "beat" the federal agents in attendance with stale Cuban bread loaves, then surrendered and demanded foreign aid from the United States.     The Conch Republic is still waiting for the foreign aid, but the roadblock was immediately removed, but the United States Government never bothered to react to the secession.    

     To this day the Conch Republic still celebrates it's independence every year with flags, passports, driver's license's and reenactments of the battles.     In 1990, members of the Tourism Board declared April 24th be Conch Republic Days.     Where else but in Key West could this have really happened?