The Florida Keys' Conch Republic will celebrate its 35th anniversary of "secession" from the U.S., in response to an unannounced U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint at the top of the Keys Overseas Highway, starting Friday.

After a highway checkpoint cause lengthy traffic backups for Keys visitors and residents when agents stopped vehicles to search for drugs and illegal aliens in 1982, the Conch Republic was born (April 23). 

Local officials staged the “secession,'' formed the republic, declared “war'' on the U.S., then promptly surrendered and requested millions in foreign aid.

The checkpoint faded away, but the “secession'' generated global attention.

The Conch Republic Independence Celebration begins Friday and continues through Sunday, April 30 with events including a secession re-enactment, a drag race featuring female impersonators and a mock sea battle. For more information on the 10-day celebration, click here