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Five Strange Fall Festivals South Florida Should Adopt

It's officially fall in South Florida, and that means... well, it doesn't really mean much of anything. Other than the corner displays at Walmart and the menu at Starbucks, nothing really changes in South Florida in the fall. Fall is sort of the layover season between summer and winter down here; the hottest days of summer are in the rear-view mirror, and the few chilly days of the holiday season are still months away. 

It's time for a change. Fall can no longer be overlooked in South Florida. It needs to be filled with memorable events people look forward to all year. This happens in other parts of the country, so why not here? Read on for a few fall-centric events South Florida can adopt and adapt into traditions all its own. 



5. Zozobra


Just from the looks of the above video, you should be able to tell that Zozobra  is the definition of the term "lit." Well, it's actually the definition of "anxiety" in Spanish, but it's crazy lit too. At the Fiestas de Santa Fe — an event that takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, around this time each year — a giant marionette effigy is built and burned as a signal of people ridding themselves of last year's troubles.

People are encouraged to scribble notes all year and stick them in a box placed in the city that will be burned to hell along with this oversized Saw-looking creature. Once "Old Man Gloom" gets torched, it's a fresh slate for everyone, which sounds like a good deal to me. South Florida could take it upon itself to steal this idea, but instead of a huge man, maybe burn a huge palm tree sculpture placed on Hollywood Beach. Burn that baby up, and rid us of our anxiety! 



4. Fall Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a beautiful festival that takes place every October. You've no doubt seen pictures from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta on a poster or postcard — the images it creates are astonishing. South Florida should steal the idea and conduct a knock-off balloon festival that's even flashier. 

South Florida has the greatest weather this time of year, so why not have a balloon race? There could be a balloon launch point in West Palm and a finish line in Key West. I suppose some could run into trouble and drift out to sea, but hey, we're sort of cool with Cuba now, so those people could just aim for Havana and take a JetBlue back. 



3. Punkin' Chunkin'


Numerous towns hold their own version of this pumpkin-launching event this time of year, but the most famous takes place in Delaware. South Florida should adopt this event, but instead of launching pumpkins into open fields, we should launch them into the ocean, where different targets labeled with point values are set. Think of it as playing darts, but instead of darts people are launching pumpkins, and instead of a dart board we're using the vast ocean. 

If South Florida really wants to give this baby a unique twist, we could launch pineapples into the sky with rocket launchers and judge them by the heights they reach. We could claim we are offering pineapples and oranges to the gods or something. It's not that weird compared to Zozobra, really. 


2. Kinetic Sculpture Race 

A kinetic sculpture race is described as a contest of human-powered, amphibious, all-terrain works of art. If that sounds like it involves a lot of work, it's because it does. Some of the races that take place in the fall around the country are described as "triathlon[s] of the art world." What better place to take on something that has to do with art than South Florida?

There could be a three-day event staged in Palm Beach where awards are given to the fastest, most beautiful, most creative, ugliest, and most resourceful art boats entered in the competition. All year long, entrants could work on their boats for a chance to win a big prize given out by a sponsor like Red Bull. Local artists could enter their own boats as floating advertisements for their art, later selling the boats off as one-of-a-kind works to rich people who could then use the boats as decorations on their property.  

While other kinetic sculpture races go on throughout the country, South Florida's would be the most eclectic, brightest, creative, and diverse of them all. Fall could be all about art in South Florida.


1. Burning Man

No, South Florida should not have a legit copy of the iconic Burning Man festival, but we could take a page out of that festival's book and use it for our own fall good. The entire meaning of Burning Man is that it is an annual experiment in community and art. Doesn't that sound great?

If there were an annual festival out near the Everglades that rivaled Burning Man in its simplicity, artistic nature, and community-oriented peacefulness, it would be the perfect way for residents to cleanse themselves of a dirty, regret-filled summer. 

Burning Man South Florida would have plenty of musical acts, food, arts, religious ceremonies, you name it. It would be the annual tradition of getting over the hot summer. It would be the place to be if you wanted to kick away the dog days of August and jump into the new season head first. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi