Yes, the cannon will shoot

By Steve Estes

Party time in Key West for us is just two weeks away.

Yep. We’re busily putting the finishing touches on our annual Fantasy Fest float as we speak.

Because it’s 2012, we were fairly sure that the parade committee was going to give us some take off on the end-of-the-world scenario predicted by the end of the Mayan calendar. Of course, the Mayans may just not have thought to go past 2012 because they figured they’d be around another few thousand years to update the calendar when the time came.

Goes to show nobody is guaranteed anything, not even an entire race of people.

But the committee didn’t disappoint and came back with an overall theme of A-Conch-Alypse.

The take off on apocalypse was readily apparent, but we were determined not to fall into the current end-of-the-world scenario that’s so popular with Hollywood and the tabloids, you know that zombie apocalypse theme that we’ve been hearing so much about in the last year or so.

Personally I think the zombie apocalypse is just an urban legend perpetuated by gun nuts who are hoping they get carte blanche to shoot people in the streets. But that’s another story.

So my wife and I discussed potential themes and hit on some decent overall concepts, then my buddy Bobby and I got together, imbibed a few cold brews and polished off a concept that Holly and I had germinated.

We decided to present the Last Stand of the Conch Republic. After all, if I were an invading force, the Florida Keys is one of the last places I would go after because we don’t have much in the way of defenses down here.

Yes we have a military presence, but that all comes from somewhere else except for the Coast Guard and those guys don’t carry big guns.

The pop guns our local folks carry wouldn’t do much to forestall the eventual takeover by an invading force, especially when they blow our three primary bridges, Card Sound Road, Jewfish Creek and the 7-Mile Bridge. Without those arteries we’re nothing but a bunch of out-of-the-mainstream old hippies and transplanted business types who can’t even agree on the best things for our environment/economy/livelihood.

In the words of any commanding general anywhere, we’re “easy pickins.”

But I’m OK with that.

So we decided that we would portray a rag-tag bunch of beautiful ladies mounting the last stand of the human race at the Southernmost Point of the continental United States against an overwhelming and obviously superior alien force that just wanted our water for fuel. (Now why haven’t we thought of that? Oh yeah, oil lobbyists.) OK off the soapbox.

But how to make it fun in the face of the annihilation of the human species?

So we set about building some actual flying spaceships. OK so they don’t fly, but they do extend out over the float and turn on their axis and they will be piloted by some cute ladies in alien garb intent of blowing up the Southernmost Point.

And then we built a wicked assault tank manned by…you guessed it…another bevy of lovely lady aliens. You see in many alien races the women, as the reproductive force, carry a lot more weight and power than their male counterparts because if they cut off the ovaries, the race dies and homo sapien has yet to figure that out.

But of course the alien ladies need a support crew, so the guys, who always walk along the float for protection against the more intense party animals downtown, will be the ground troops.

And as we usually do, we had to put our thinking caps (beer bottle twist offs) to work and figure out some creative engineering to make the ships look like they’re flying and turn in dogfight patterns.

Bobby solved that one with a heavy-duty swivel base. The cannons are powered by strobe lights with staggered holes to simulate the firing process.

We had our artist Saulo draw some really cool aliens and our other artist Dan paint up a really cool-looking Southernmost Point and our colorist Monica fill in the blanks.

The ladies came along and tossed on some silver paint and multi-colored glitter, after all an alien race won’t be dull.

Our builders Kris and Steve concocted hidden platforms and ships that looked like fighters out of Star Wars. We tossed up some hand rails to hold the inebriated passengers in place, and then faced our final challenge.

We tried to get the parade committee to allow us to blow confetti out the top of the point to simulate the final stage of the battle for the supremacy of Earth.

Nope.

We asked about Skittles. Biodegradable and snacks for the audience. Nope.

So we asked about popcorn. Biodegradable, no potential harm to humans on the route, and light enough to blow out a four-inch pipe without actual pyrotechnics. The committee said…great idea. The Fire Marshall said no way.

So we have put on our thinking caps (another trash can full of beer bottle twist offs) and wrestled with the dilemma for more than a week.

And we think we’ve found the answer.

But if I told you that it would spoil the surprise.

Come see us Saturday night and find out the answers to all your questions.

Oh, and have a good time to boot.

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