Super Mario Side-Scrolls Into Redbull’s Flugtag in Tampa

The concept took shape over a couple of beers. Mustaches, the recent college grads decided. We definitely need mustaches. The tall skinny fellow could be Luigi; the squat round one Mario. And the architect of the whole scheme – well, he's Donkey Kong, of course.

How is it possible that nobody else had ever thought to make a Super Mario Brothers-themed craft for one of Red Bull's flugtag events? You know, those gatherings where a bunch of wacky mo-fos design hang gliders and try to steer the contraptions into the air over a body of water.

Red Bull hasn't hosted a Flugtag contest in Florida since 2004, when it reigned in Miami's Bayfront Park. The winning craft that day soared 33 feet before crashing down into Biscayne Bay.

Carlos Lopez, a 23-year-old Miami resident, caught the display. He thought it was crazy cool. So when he and a few childhood chums heard about another Flugtag event in Tampa, scheduled for this July 19, they poured all their spare time into securing a slot. The boys beat out nearly 300 entries to clinch one of 32 spots in the contest.

Then Super Mario Brothers took over. "This has been our lives for the last two months," says Randy Alonso, the team's captain and designer of the craft. "It's kind of depressing. No girls want to hang out with us anymore because all we talk about is Mario Kart."

Plus, they all have skeevy mustaches. And, in the case of Alonso -- aka Donkey Kong – a beard. "Food gets stuck in my facial hair when I eat now," Alonso warns. "It's kind of gross."

At least Alonso's Cuban tailor isn't weirded out. When he requested a furry full-body suit, the man simply replied, "OK."

The young men convinced a DJ friend, Ryan Evans, to mix up a kickin' techno track to accompany the dance sequence. Oh, yeah, there's a dance sequence, too. The Mario crew promises sophisticated choreography with classic steps like "running in place" and "making it rain" and "pushing it away" and "fist-pumping to the beat."

Lopez – ahem, Luigi – has a signature move on the club circuit that involves him hanging upside down from a ceiling rafter and – what else? – pumping a fist in the air. That one might not work so well outdoors, so Lopez will probably launch into a few mid-air back-flips instead. The grand-prize is real-life flying lessons, although the Mario crew says they're just in it for the glory.

To convince the Red Bull folks to let them in on the fun, Alonso drew a picture of the guys throwing red turtles at each other. Red turtles? "Those were the homing missiles in the game," Alonso explains with growing embarrassment. "See, this is why girls don't want to talk to us anymore. I'm really trying not to sound like a dork."

- Amy Guthrie

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran