Thousands of fish will fly across the Florida-Alabama line during Flora-Bama's annual Interstate Mullet Toss, one of Perdido Key's most beloved beach events

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For more than 30 years, the Interstate Mullet Toss has compelled ordinary people of all ages to pick up a dead fish and fling it as far as possible over the Alabama-Florida state line. On April 24-26, tens of thousands of beach-lovers will descend upon Perdido Key to attend this year's 3-day event.

Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss

A young competitor takes aim during the Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss on Perdido Key, Fla.

It’s become one of the biggest weekends of the year on Perdido Key, with more than a thousand people lining up to fling a fish and tens of thousands of spectators from all over the country and beyond standing by to enjoy the competition.

Perdido Key, Fla. is well-known for its incomparably white sand beaches and turquoise Gulf waters. The sixteen mile-long island is home to Big Lagoon State Park and Gulf Islands National Seashore, which was recently voted Florida’s Best Beach in a USA Today poll.

But it might be more famous for an annual tradition that started more than 30 years ago at the iconic beach bar Flora-Bama, where thousands of people of all ages line up each April to take their best shot at throwing a dead mullet—a popular and plentiful fish indigenous to the area—across the state line.

The first mullet toss was a small affair, held on a July 4th weekend in 1985. But once CNN aired footage of former University of Alabama and NFL quarterback Kenny Stabler throwing the fish in 1988, there was no going back.

It’s become one of the biggest weekends of the year on Perdido Key, with more than a thousand people lining up to fling a fish and tens of thousands of spectators from all over the country and beyond standing by to enjoy the competition, along with live music, food and other activities.

And what a competition it is. The Mullet Toss record is 189 feet and 8 inches, set by Josh Serotum in 2004. In a bid to overthrow him in 2008, Roald Bradstock, a former Olympic Javelin thrower and one-time world recorder holder in that event, launched his mullet 169 feet and 9 inches, falling short by almost 20 feet. (Undaunted, Bradstock then broke his own Guinness World Record for throwing a cell phone, sending it 211 feet and 8 inches).

There are rules, of course. You can’t bring your own mullet. No gloves are allowed. You can’t load your mullet with sand or other substances, although some contestants have given their mullet a sip of beer. You have to fetch the fish after it’s been thrown, and stepping out of the 10-foot throwing circle or tossing the mullet out of bounds will result in an automatic disqualification.

The wildly popular beach bash also raises money to support good causes. This year’s event is expected to generate $20,000 for Community Drug & Alcohol Council.

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Brooke Fleming
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