The Conch Republic

Photo Credit: The Conch Republic Facebook

Conch (kongk): any variety of large, spiral-shaped mollusks; the shell of which is used especially in cameos. When capitalized, Conch: a native or resident of the Florida Keys.

Drive past the Last Chance Saloon on US 1 in Florida City, and you’ve just entered a new country. Well, sort of. That country is the Northernmost Territories of The Conch Republic. Don’t worry. You don’t have to show your passport, but that wasn’t always the case.

For some strange reason, back in 1982, the U.S. federal government border patrol had deemed it altogether fitting and proper to establish a border-type roadblock 100 miles within U.S. territory to check for illegal immigrants, drug smuggling, and heaven knows what else. Nearly every car was stopped and searched, resulting in a 17-mile-long traffic jam on the only road connecting the Keys to mainland Florida. Getting to and from the Keys became one giant hassle, and tourism to the area plummeted. Not to mention residents of the Keys were made to feel like outcasts or criminals, having to show passports to travel within their own state.

Key West Mayor Dennis Wardlow headed a three-man delegation to federal court in Miami, asking for an end to the blockade. After thoughtful deliberation to consider all the legalities, the court told Mayor Wardlow, “No.” Faced with a government not willing to give equal rights to all, Wardlow announced to the growing number of television and newspaper media gathering outside the courtroom, “Tomorrow at noon the Florida Keys will secede from the Union.”

Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/AP photo

At noon the following day, in a one-page proclamation of secession read at Mallory Square, he spoke simply for all his fellow Conchs, stating, “That’s our flag. It has a conch on it. We secede from the United States.” And, with that, the new Prime Minister of the Conch Republic declared war on the United States, demonstrated by breaking stale Cuban bread over a man dressed in a Naval uniform. After one full minute of “war, “Prime Minister Wardlow surrendered to the U.S. Forces (to the same guy in the Naval uniform, actually) and demanded millions of dollars in postwar foreign aid. While the government immediately took down the roadblock, Conchs are still waiting for the aid.

And thus, the quirky Conch Republic was born, April 23, 1982. Wardlow was quoted in a statement to a member of the Foreign Ministry as saying, “It is our function as the Conch Republic to be the Joker in the deck. You may not always want to play with us, but we must be there, otherwise, you’re not playing with a full deck.” For over 36 years, this Conch micronation has governed with humor, warmth, and respect in a world in sore need of all three.

Every year since then, we Conchs have come together for an annual celebration of our independence. This year, the 10-day celebration will take place from Friday, April 20th to Monday, April 30th and shine a light on everything that makes Key West fun and unique.

Where were you on April 23, 1982? If any of you were lucky enough to be in Key West to witness the unfolding of this historic event that would travel around the world at warp speed in a pre-internet age, we would love to hear your story! Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Instagram! Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks.

Happy Birthday to us!

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Best Places for Key Lime Pie in Key West

Key Lime Pie, Photo: Ralph Daily, Flickr

No trip to Key West is complete without at least one slice of key lime pie. It doesn’t matter how you like it, whether it’s a classic slice, topped with fluffy meringue or dipped in sweet chocolate and served on a stick, you won’t find a better slice of key lime pie anywhere else.

[breif history of key limes and pie]

Lucky for us, there are many great places to satisfy your craving for this sweet & tart dessert on the island. We took an informal poll on our Facebook and rounded up what we consider the best places for key lime pie in Key West.

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe

Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Photo: Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe

“Kermit’s for the win!” – Nadine

A fan-favorite, Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe sells almost everything you could think of that has key lime in it. Cookies, salsa, chutney, taffy, jelly beans, tea, olive oil, spices and so much more. But the piece de resistance is their Key Lime Pie.

Key West Key Lime Pie Company

Key West Key Lime Pie Co. Photo: Key West Key Lime Pie Co., Facebook

“I like the sweetness of the Key Lime Pie Company’s pie.” – Ashley

The Key Lime Pie company has been around since 2006, hand-making a 100-year-old recipe using real key lime juice and a fresh graham cracker crust. At their location, they sell pie in a few different styles, candy from Sweet Pete’s Candy and even host classes!

Blue Heaven

Key Lime Pie at Blue Heaven, Photo: Blue Heaven, Facebook

“Blue Heaven! Love the meringue topping! ” – Faith

Blue Heaven is a sit-down restaurant where you can eat some good food, listen to great live music and even take a quick shower. What sets the Blue Heaven’s pie apart from the above locations is the sweet meringue on top of each slice.

If you still can’t take our word or the word of our fans’ at face value, come down for yourself and try the pie at The Key Lime Festival this summer. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

Did your favorite spot make the list? If not, tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more skin care tips & tricks.

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New Year’s Eve in Key West

Happy New Year from Key West Aloe
Greetings from Key West Florida
Greetings from Key West Florida Mural at The Cuban Coffee Queen. Photo: Cayobo via flickr

On a regular day, Key West is a fun place to be to visit — we have easy access to the ocean, fun bars for everyone and an interesting history. But on special occasions like Halloween and New Year’s Eve, Key West goes all out.

You already know about Fantasy Fest, continue reading to see how us Conchs ring in the New Year!

Key West Dachshund Walk: Enter the “Wiener Wonderland” this New Year’s Eve when 200+ dachshunds take to the streets and march through Key West’s Downtown. The 3 block parade is kept short to for the puppy’s short legs.

Final Sunset Celebration of The Year: Two hours before the sun sets, the party begins at Mallory Square. Performers and artist will wow you with their fun-filled acts, all set to one of the best sunsets in the world.

Sunset Cruise: If you want to get a little more personal with the Key West Sunset, consider booking a sunset cruise. Fury Key West has a few packages available from a romantic cruise with live music and food to a glass bottom boat cruise where the views are amazing wherever you look.

Sunset Celebration - Key West. Photo: Key West Aloe
Sunset Celebration – Key West. Photo: Key West Aloe

3 Ball Drops

Instead of just one glittery ball dropping as the clock strikes midnight, Key West take it up a few notches with THREE large items dropping.

Schooner Wharf Lowering of the Pirate Wench: Evalena Worthington, co-owner of the bar and Key West’s favorite’s pirate wench will descend from a large mast of America 2.0 accompanied by cannon fire and noisemakers. The party starts at 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until 4 a.m. in 2018!

Conch Shell Drop at Sloppy Joe’s: Stand outside this historic bar and see the symbol ou Key West drop at the stroke of midnight. This is the original New Year’s Eve attraction in Key West so you won’t want to miss this! Everyone starts heading to Sloppy Joe’s around 10 p.m. and wait for the Conch to lower and confetti, streamers and lights to fill the sky.

Bourbon St. Pub New Year’s Eve Shoe Drop: Have you ever seen a drag queen named Sushi lowered from the rooftop in a bright red shoe? If not, you have no idea what you’re missing out on. Head down to the Bourbon St. Pub to witness one of the most unique ball droppings of the season.

Those are some of the fun things we think you shouldn’t miss this New Year’s Eve. What are your holiday plans?

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