The Upper Florida Keys will showcase their "conch" spirit during the second annual Key Largo Conch Republic Days set for Friday, April 23, through Sunday, May 2. Overflowing with frivolity, fun, feasts and feats, the festival is to include an unusual attempt to land the region in the "Guiness Book of World Records" for "extreme underwater ironing."

Kicking off the celebration is a planned raising of the flag -- symbolizing both Key Largo as the Northernmost Territories of the Florida Keys and the separation of the entire Keys chain as the "Conch Republic" that seceded from the United States to protest a 1982 Border Patrol blockade. A re-enactment of that proclamation of secession is planned.

The festival's day and evening events are to be staged at area restaurants, businesses and entertainment venues. Specials on conch dishes at participating Key Largo restaurants are to be featured throughout the event.  Other highlights include a Conch and Key Lime Cookoff where amateurs and pros can vie for culinary awards, a concha-licious progressive wine dinner, Jimmy Buffett impersonator contest and King and Queen Conch contest.

Interested divers who want to "board" the world record attempt for the most people ironing underwater at the same time are invited to "take a dive" Saturday, May 1. More than 86 divers are needed to break the current world record, held by a group of British scuba divers.

Prospective participants can contact Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center at 305-451-3020, Amy Slate's Amoray Dive Center at 305-451-3595, Keys Diver at 305-451-1177 or visit www.keylargounderwaterironing.com. Cost is $85 per diver, including tank and weights. Divers are advised to bring their own ironing board and iron.

The celebration concludes Sunday, May 2, with a ceremonial -- and symbolic -- "destruction of the bridge," in this case, the area's Jewfish Creek Bridge, along with dancing, music, food and drink specials.

For more information, call 305-395-3736 or for a complete lineup of events, visit www.keylargoconchrepublicdays.com .

For information on area accommodations, contact the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at 800-822-1088 or 305-451-4747, or explore the official site of the Florida Keys & Key West at www.fla-keys.com.

 

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