Key West is known internationally, as a one of the best travel destinations. Its history, dining, hospitality, and Florida Keys traditions make it a must visit destination for nearly 2 million people each year.
What many of those visitors discover, only after they arrive, is that the cheerful, relaxing town of Key West once declared its independence from the United States government.
No, it wasn’t a sinister plot to overthrow the American government. It was mostly a tongue-in-cheek declaration of protest against a policy that threatened to harm the tourist trade. A policy that made life uncomfortable for visitors and residents.
In 1982 the US government became concerned about illegal immigration through the Florida Keys. To combat this, they established several border checkpoints. The checkpoints on the main roads, including US Highway 1, which runs the length of the Keys, caused backups for nearly 20 miles.
When the gridlock began to result in some visitors canceling trips to the Keys, local officials knew they had to do something to get the attention of the federal government. After repeatedly protesting the need for the border checkpoints, the Mayor at the time, Dennis Wardlow, and the town council declared Key West’s independence. To name their new micro-nation, they used a term used to refer to locals. That is how the Conch Republic was born.
The formal republic did not last long. The story goes that the Prime Minister, Mayor Wardlow, surrendered to a serviceman in town, and then applied for one billion dollars in foreign aid. This assistance never came but things soon returned to normal and the story made for great publicity for Key West.
Understanding how keeping the memory of the Conch Republic would make for a great story, a great party and establish new Florida Keys traditions, the official Conch Republic Independence Day began in 1990. For several days before and after April 23rd, the Conch Republic Independence Celebration is a party centered around having a good time and giving vacationers another great reason to visit the Florida Keys.
While enjoying the activities you can get your own Conch Republic passport and souvenir flag to show your friends back home. You can also share with them the memories of the rest of your trip. Tell them about the history of the region, the fine dining, the beautiful weather and the best view of the sunset anywhere.
When you want to visit the Florida Keys, check out the Aqua Villas at Mangrove Marina. These beautiful houseboat rentals will provide you with a memorable experience of living on the water.
Mangrove Marina offers all the amenities you expect, cable TV, high speed WiFi, a full kitchen and bathroom, and an outdoor patio overlooking the water. For houseboat rentals Florida Keys, Mangrove Marina is the perfect location to enjoy Key West and all that the entire Florida Keys have to offer. Come visit us for the next Conch Republic Independence Celebration or any other time of the year.