What prompted this move was a roadblock set up by the US Border Patrol on US1 in Florida City, blocking the only way to get to the Florida Keys via vehicle. Delays getting into the Keys were starting to effect the economy of the islands when people decided to cancel their vacations to the area because they wanted to avoid the hassle. After petitions from Florida Keys government officials to the United States Federal government to remove the road block were denied, Keys community leaders determined that a roadblock separating Monroe County from the rest of Florida was basically the same as a road block between the United States and Mexico or Canada. So, they decided that seceding from the United States was their best option.
Then Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlaw was chosen as the Prime Minister of the new Conch Republic. On April 23rd he read aloud the Conch Republic Proclamation of Secession in the middle of Clinton Square. Afterwards he declared war on the United States by throwing stale Cuban bread at the federal agents that were in Key West to monitor the secession situation. A Conch Republic Military was even formed from locals with boats and planes.
After this stunt, the United States government did finally remove the road block, although the secession was never formally addresses by anyone.
So nothing ever really became of the Conch Republic. But in the 1990s Conch Republic Days began as a way to draw tourists to the area celebrating the islands’ attempts at secession from the great nation of the United States. Events for this week long celebration held each April include a drag race, a bed race, a car show, a music festival, parades, a craft show, and the famous Bloody Battle. You can even buy a Conch Republic Passport (which is not good for anything other than a silly souvenir).
April 17 – 26, 2015 is when this year’s celebration of the Florida Keys secession from the United States will be celebrated. So come on down and join in on the wacky fun!