Last month, the City of South Miami passed a resolution calling for the area from Orlando and Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys to secede from the rest of the state to form America's 51st state: the state of South Florida. We, of course, love the idea (even if we had previously floated the idea of just Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and the Keys breaking off).
However, there are a lot of details to consider when forming a new state -- like, well, state symbols. Clearly they are the most important part of all of this.
Obviously, South Florida will take (or at least get joint custody of) things like the Florida panther, the manatee, and the alligator (the state animal, mammal, and reptile, respectively) in the separation settlement.
We'd be happy to leave other things to North Florida. The state song has a racist history, the state bird is particularly boring for a place with so many beautiful feathered fauna, and our state motto is just lazy. That would leave us with an opportunity to rebrand South Florida for the 21st Century.
You can vote on our suggestions below or write in your own candidates in the comments. We'll highlight some of the best ideas when we announce the winners this Monday.
Update: We switched out the poll service we were using, but don't worry, we still have the old votes accounted for.
The New State Bird
The fact that the mockingbird is the state bird of Florida has irked me since I was a child. It's a basic, unremarkable-looking creature, and four other states already have it as their official state avian. It's like the Toyota Camry of birds. Plus, Florida has a lot of crazy-looking birds that aren't found in many other places in the country. Why aren't one of those birds our state bird? We finally have a chance to correct this travesty of aviary honor.
Here are the options:
There's no other bird as aesthetically linked to South Florida as the flamingo, even if that aesthetic is a bit kitschy. We should also note that there are almost no more wild flamingos left in Florida. Sorry, flamingos! Would this make it up to you, or would you find it offensive?
Florida has lots of striking, long-necked birds. The egret is one of the prettiest and also allows us to sidestep a flame war between University of Miami fans and haters (in my opinion, Sebastian's spot as Florida's top ibis should not be threatened).
3. Brown Pelican
Here's another bird that's iconic in the Florida aesthetic. The only problem is that the brown pelican is lready the state bird of Louisiana.
4. Roseate Spoonbill
Beautiful yet odd. Quite fitting, actually.
Official State Motto
Florida has one of the laziest mottos in the union. It's the same as the national motto, "In God we trust." (We'll quietly sidestep a debate about religion.)
Our suggestions should be pretty self-explanatory.
The New State Nickname
Unfortunately, South Florida will have to part with the nickname "the Sunshine State." Of course, these things are used only on license plates and by writers and editors who don't want to be repetitious by referring to the state by its formal name again and again and again. We actually made earnest suggestions here, but other input is appreciated. ("Magic" being a dual reference to Miami's nickname "the Magic City" and Orlando's basketball team and the Magic Kingdom.)
The New State Song
"Old Folks at Home" is a racist song. It was meant for people to sing in blackface. It's written in a parody of a kind of African-American vernacular from the 1850s, originally included the word "darkies" (which has since been replaced by "brothers," because that's only sort of racist), and has the protagonist longing for his old slave plantation. It's disgusting and a shame upon this state. Charlie Crist refused to have it sung at his inauguration and tried to do away with it, but his fellow Republicans in the Legislature decided to keep it. Anyway, luckily, South Florida won't be keeping it. How about one of these instead?
1. Andrew Gold, "Thank You for Being a Friend"
Yes, this is the Golden Girls theme. Yes, it is.
2. Ariana Grande, "Break Free"
The tiny Boca-born songstress nearly had the hit of the summer with her song about breaking up with a loser to become who "you really are" and "stronger than I've been before," which is basically what South Florida would be doing to North Florida.
3. Debbie Deb, "When I Hear Music"
We obviously needed a Miami freestyle option, but all of Exposé's best songs are about orgasms. Stevie B's songs are mostly about being hung up on some girl. Debbie Deb's Pretty Tony-produced dance-floor classic "When I Hear Music" has pretty innocuous lyrics that remind people that South Florida is a place to have a good time.
4. Jimmy Buffett, "Floridays"
Listen, it just felt wrong not to include a Jimmy Buffett song as an option.
The New State Capital
Tallahassee will remain in North Florida, and that's not much of a loss, but we'll have to decide on a new capital.
Miami is the biggest and best-connected city in our new state, but where exactly would we build a bunch of new government buildings? Sebring is almost smack in the middle of what would be the new state and has this great historic building that's sitting empty and would be a pretty capital building. Tampa and Orlando would probably like to be considered too. We could also put the capital in Southwest Florida, let's say Estero, as a bribe to go along with the idea, considering it's the most conservative part of the state and conveniently located at the halfway point of the Tamiami Trail anyway.
The State Food
Florida doesn't have a state food. However, it does designate a state pie. Guess which one? Yes, key lime, which obviously South Florida have rights to, but we could also use this designation to finally call a truce in the great Miami-versus-Tampa Cuban-sandwich battle. Plus, hey, Burger King is based here!
The State Drink
Yes, orange juice is the state drink, and South Florida has equal rights to it as North Florida, if not more. However, we could slightly differentiate ourselves.
Florida's state tree is the sabal palm, but there are other types of palm trees. The royal palm is perhaps prettier and is abundant in South Florida but rarely found in the part of the state we'd be leaving behind. So it's appropriate. Or we could do a 180 and designate the mangrove as a means of signaling our dedication to protecting the environment. Or you could be weird and suggest something else, but unless it's some other type of palm tree, you're kidding yourself.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Of course, there are many other decisions to make about our new state. We're not graphic designers here, so we'll leave a new state flag and state seal to the professionals (or, you know, anyone who wants to email us their ideas). There's the state flower (the alligator lily sounds cool), state butterfly/insect, state stone (lime?), and even a state play to decide.
In the comments, leave your ideas for other state symbols we didn't list. We'll mention any particularly good ones when we reveal the winners Monday.