In on the Joke at the First-Ever Florida Man Games

The idea came to Pete Melfi, a radio personality turned podcaster in St. Augustine, Fla., last year after he organized “the laziest race in the history of races,” a .5-kilometer beer run, and the participants had a grand old time.

Wouldn’t it be fun, Mr. Melfi thought, to hold another race, this time with a big after-party? And what if the theme was none other than the meme that launched many thousands of headlines about his home state: Florida Man?

His wild idea morphed into an all-day competition with a series of zany events: A mullet contest. A “mud duel” with pool noodles. An “evading arrest” obstacle course, with real sheriff’s deputies pursuing the contestants. (But, to be clear, there were no actual arrests in the race. The handcuffs came from a sex toy shop.)

“We understand that Florida is weird,” Mr. Melfi said. “We embrace it.”

If the rest of the country — hell, the rest of the world — is going to make Florida the punchline, then those who call it home might as well be in on the joke. Don’t overthink it.

Snakes belonging to Jeremy Varnadore, the “Snake Man” of St. Augustine, on a box on Cuna Street.
Alligators are on view at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

But Florida Man has been a cultural phenomenon for so long that some in Florida and beyond have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what it means, how to challenge it and what it says about the state’s identity. Maybe the games in St. Augustine could also be an excuse to explore the evolution of the meme — and of Florida itself.

Related Articles

Back to top button