Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Battle of the Conch Republic

I'm Mark - today's guest blogger.

You may need some quick background here. In 1982, in an effort to stem the flow of illegal drugs through the Keys, the US Border Patrol set up a roadblock near the northern end of US Highway 1. They stopped every car going in or out and generally created some major pain for residents and visitors. The Key West City Council complained vigorously that it was badly hurting tourism and daily life but they didn't even get a response. Then they tried another approach.

On 23 April 1982, they declared secession from the US and named themselves the Conch Republic. They declared war on the US by breaking a loaf of Cuban bread over the head of a man dressed in a Naval uniform. Then, after one minute, they surrendered to the same man and requested a billion dollars in foreign aid. It worked. The national press got wind of the story and the blockade was lifted within days. They never got the money but, in 1994, the Conch Republic was even invited to the Summit of the Americas. Now days you can still buy passports for the Conch Republic.

Every year, at the end of April, Key West holds a Conch Independence celebration with a series of fun events that culminate with a reenactment of a farcical battle that never happened - Bloody Battle of the Conch Republic. The Conch Navy, Air Force and Army battle to protect the homeland against the evil forces of the Mainland. Usually, the CG even supplies one of its 110-foot Cutters but, this year, sequestration reduced their play to smaller boats.

The Army prepares their cannons for the inevitable carnage while the Conch Air Force holds in defensive positions.

With the Flagship of the Conch Republic leading the way, the Navy arrives to defend Key West's shores against the US Coast Guard and their volunteer militia.

The Conch Army and Naval Battlestaff prepare for the impending engagement.  The Admiral even has a Director's Chair with "Admiral" emblazoned across the back.

The air battle begins. Mainland bombers release toilet paper bombs against the Army but the Conch Air Force is right on their heels.

With flak still in it's rigging, this valiant ship continued the fight. Such bravery can only happen when you fight for a heartfelt cause.
Even the smaller mercenary boats from the mainland put up a fierce fight.  Water cannons rained hell on the brave Conch sailors.   (pun intended.)                                                                                   

VICTORY!  The first Coast Guard vessel limps away in flames.

  ...and the Republic lives on...


  1. Sounds like a fun event. Down with the mainland fleet. Hail the Conch Republic! :)