Key West Celebrates 32 years of the Conch Republic: “We Seceded Where Others Failed!”

Click here to watch Sir Peter Anderson’s introduction to the Conch Republic:

Every year visitors join Key West residents for the Conch Republic Independence Celebration, a fun-filled festival that in 2014 is scheduled for 18 April to 27 April. The quirky series of events honours the heritage of the Conch Republic – also known as the Florida Keys.

In 1982, the United States Border Patrol set up a roadblock and inspection point on US1 in Monroe County – the only road in and out of the Florida Keys. The purpose of the roadblock was to search every vehicle coming in and out of the Keys for narcotics and illegal immigrants. The Key West City Council complained repeatedly about the harmful impact the roadblock was having on tourism, and the extensive delays travellers to the Keys were having to endure.

On 23 April 1982, under the leadership of Mayor Dennis Wardlow, the Florida Keys declared independence from the United States of America – The Conch Republic was officially formed. The council agreed that if the federal government was insistent on treating the Keys like a foreign nation, they would behave like one. Wardlow then declared war on the United States and threw a stale piece of bread at a naval officer, before surrendering and applying for one billion dollars in emergency aid.

The secession generated worldwide publicity and the Conch Republic still exists today as a “Sovereign State of Mind,” seeking only to bring more “Humour, Warmth, and Respect to a world in sore need of all three,” according to Secretary General Peter Anderson. Visitors to Key West can pop in to visit Sir Peter’s elaborate office and get their own Conch Republic Passport.

Visitors to Key West are invited to celebrate their own independence at April’s Conch Republic Independence Celebration, a 10-day extravaganza that includes a sea “battle” featuring tall ships, the Conch Cruiser Car Show, the Great Conch Republic Drag Race, the Green Parrot Conch Republic Music Festival and the “world’s longest parade” down the island’s Duval Street from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The festival’s oldest event is the Conch Republic Red Ribbon Bed Race, a charity race of decorated beds down Duval Street. The quirky challenge is billed as “the most fun you can have in bed with your clothes on.”

For a full schedule of events at the Conch Republic Independence Celebration, visit

For more information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit

March 2014



For more information and images, please contact Ulla Helander at the Florida Keys & Key West Nordic Press Office on