"I wanted to throw an event that gave people the chance to experience a day in the life of a Florida Man, without the fear of being arrested," says the founder
A Florida man’s quest to make fun of “Florida Man” headlines will culminate in the first-ever Florida Man Games — and police officers and firefighters are in on the joke!
Founder Pete Melfi decided to create the “insane athletic showdown” after covering weird, only-in-Florida news for nearly a decade while working in radio and podcasting.
“I wanted to throw an event that gave people the chance to experience a day in the life of a Florida Man, without the fear of being arrested,” he tells PEOPLE.
For Melfi’s part, that meant creating games that let participants seemingly get an adrenaline rush minus any jail time.
The St. Augustine native knew that getting Florida first responders to buy in would be critical to make the concept come together.
“I have a great relationship with our local St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick, who was rolling on the floor laughing at the concept of the Florida Man Games,” Melfi tells PEOPLE. “I asked him if he thought any officers would be interested, and to my surprise, we had a ton of volunteers in the sheriff's office who stepped up to chase down some Florida men!”
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Melfi is referring to one of the marquee events — the "Evading Arrest Obstacle Course" — where competitors jump over fences, through back yards and away from actual police officers.
Among other scheduled games at the competition — slated for Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 in St. Augustine — is the Weaponized Pool Noodle Mud Duel, where teams will face off in a “massive above-ground pool,” as well as the "Beer Belly Florida Sumo."
Other oddities include a mullet contest, a “Florida Ma’am” contest, and a boxing match where police officers and firefighters will duke it out in the “Brawl of the Badges.”
Sixteen teams from across the state will be selected to compete in the wacky forum — or at the “colosseum” — as Melfi calls it. The organizer expects about 10,000 people total, including competitors and ticketed guests, he said.
The team submission deadline is Nov. 15, with the final teams selected by the end of the month, according to The Florida Man Games website.
Melfi says the sheer ridiculousness of The Florida Man Games is exactly the point of it all.
“The main thing I hope people take from the event is a sore midsection from constant laughter,” he says. “Just like the headlines themselves, we want people to laugh more than anything. I think laughter is one of the best feelings you can give to people, and we all just want people to enjoy themselves immensely.”
Tickets, ranging from $45-$145, are currently available for the spectacle — and attendees can get in on the fun without being on a team.
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Read the original article on People.