KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — The 40th anniversary celebration of the Florida Keys’ symbolic secession from the United States has begun in Key West.
The 10-day Conch Republic Independence Celebration kicked off Friday with a waterfront ceremony at the island city’s Mallory Square.
The offbeat republic was born April 23, 1982, shortly after a Border Patrol checkpoint was erected at the top of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, the lower end of U.S. Highway 1.
Agents ostensibly searched departing cars for drugs and other contraband.
After appeals to remove the roadblock were denied by federal officials, Key West’s then-mayor Dennis Wardlow led local leaders in staging the tongue-in-cheek secession, proclaiming the independent Conch Republic and raising its royal blue flag.