By Raelyn Mae Holmes
Ah, the Mullet Toss: It’s right up there with the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo when it comes to weird, but somehow intriguing, events and activities. The annual Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast’s Biggest Beach Party is one of the more legendary, but odd, tourist draws the Gulf Coast has ever seen. On the last full weekend in April each year, the beautiful white sand beaches are positively jam packed – and with good reason. This year it’s the 31st anniversary of the event, and it promises to be great fun April 24-26. Are you going? Good for you!
If you haven’t been to the Mullet Toss, you are missing out: It’s a massive beach party, right behind the famed Flora-Bama Lounge and Package on Perdido Key. Because nothing says “Party!” like people lining up to throw a dead fish over the Alabama/Florida state line to see who can throw it the farthest. This has nothing to do with a really *bad* haircut. It’s about the flying fish. And the party. And yeah, it’s a little gross, but it’s hard not to find yourself caught up in the excitement.
How, exactly, did this bizarre tradition begin?
I mean, I’ve been to the Mullet Toss countless times. I’ve partied, I’ve cheered on the participants with unbridled enthusiasm, though I’ve never flung a fish myself. Too icky. And at each year’s event, I’ve met folks from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and beyond, who pull into town ready for some freaky fish action (seriously, the crowds are insane year after year for the Mullet Toss). But in all this time, until now, I never really stopped to consider how the heck this all got started.
So I did what any naturally curious person would do at 11 p.m. on a random weekday night. I looked it up. Apparently, the Mullet Toss began in 1985 as a really small party out on the beach. Low key, you know? Because that’s just how people roll along the Gulf Coast. “Hey, let’s get some beer and see who can toss this little, relatively insignificant fish, the farthest!” Supposedly the fact that the little mullet has a gizzard adds enough weight to make the thing more aerodynamic than your average fish. Not sure if that’s true, but I’m not about to start throwing dead fish around my backyard to find out.
So that’s that. Now you know. Famous people have participated in the Mullet Toss – including the likes of Kenny Stabler (he tried, unsuccessfully, to throw a perfect spiral mullet) and others. There’s even a special Celebrity Mullet Toss event over the weekend. Oh and lest you think this isn’t a family-friendly event, there are special kids’ Mullet Toss events as well. Everyone can get in on the action, and believe me, they do - the beach is crazy crowded and SO fun!
It should also be mentioned that proceeds raised from the Interstate Mullet Toss support local charity organizations. The event raises as much as $20,000 annually for local charities. So hey, throw a mullet for a good cause, why don’t you? Put this event on your Bucket List. Last I checked, it only costs about $15 to get a chance to participate in the Mullet Toss. What have you got to lose?
Oh and one last tip if you do go: Parking is a zoo on all three days of Mullet Toss, so consider taking shuttles set up from Orange Beach and/or Perdido Key to the Flora-Bama. It’s worth the $5, trust me.
For more information on the Interstate Mullet Toss, visit http://www.florabama.com.
Photos: PNJ.com and Flora-Bama.com