The Conch Republic Independence Days are when Conchs get together to recall the day the Florida Keys withdrew from the United States. Tourists and newcomers join them to see what it’s all about and to watch the zany way in which this event is celebrated. To understand this strange holiday, take a look at Key West history.
In 1982 US Border Control decided they needed to take things up a notch and get serious with illegal immigration, from Cuba. They set up a border patrol station in Florida City, which is last stop on the mainland before you drive onto the Florida Keys. You had to show ID to go through the border stop, which was a very annoying inconvenience to some and a downright insulting infringement on civil rights, to others. Either way, it doesn’t seem like anyone thought about the impact on people’s lives when they set up the border check station, at a place within the US that wasn’t even any type of international border. It’s like making people show their passports when they cross from NY in New Jersey, in case any stray illegals are crossing that particular spot.
Well, Keys people rebelled, and mayors of various Florida Keys towns got together and tried to convince a judge in Miami to stop the silly border control actions in Florida City. No dice. So they said, well, then we aren’t going to be part of your country any more. They then declared the birth of the Conch Republic, and it’s this day in April 1982 which they honor every year with the Conch Republic Independence Celebration.