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SANTA ROSA BEACH — Saturday Night Live kinda jumped the gun on attorney Daniel Uhlfelder’s plan to walk Walton County’s beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper.
Now it looks like he may have a whole entourage clinging to his cloak Friday when he embarks upon his Grim Reaper Beach Tour to deliver a message of “go home” to the masses.
Saturday Night Live previewed my upcoming trip around Florida dressed as the Grim Reaper to get people to stay home. Please watch and retweet! pic.twitter.com/2pLyXGszsm— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) April 27, 2020
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I’ve had AP call, and People Magazine. A lot of people. A local TV station is going to be with me all day.”
Uhlfelder, a customary use advocate who has built a huge Twitter following advocating for opening all of Walton County’s beaches to the public, took to his favorite social media outlet on Tuesday, April 21, to announce his idea for the beach tour.
RELATED: Huckabee files Florida Bar complaint against customary use foe
He sees the tour as a unique way of getting the message across that Walton County’s was premature in its decision to re-open its beaches. The beaches are scheduled to open Friday.
RELATED: DeSantis fights deposition in Walton attorney’s beach lawsuit
But SNL must have gotten hold of the Tweet and on its last Saturday newscast, actor Colin Jost treated the tour as though it had already happened, and envisioned a Florida Grim Reaper coming face to face with the actual Grim Reaper as the latter was going about his day-to-day business.
RELATED: Gov. Ron DeSantis wins first round in lawsuit aiming to force him to close beaches in Florida
So any cover Uhlfelder might have sought before sending out a news release Thursday evening announcing his event was effectively blown.
Uhlfelder sees the Grim Reaper tour as a humorous, if dark, way of letting people know that the coronavirus is still a potent force to be reckoned with.
RELATED: Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder no longer representing Florida Beaches for All
“In these circumstances, I can see no rational reason to open our beaches, effectively inviting tens of thousands of tourists back into our community” he said in his news release. “If by dressing up as the ‘Grim Reaper’ and walking our beaches I can make people think and potentially help save a life – that is the right thing to do.”
Walton County has recorded less than 40 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.
The Grim Reaper Beach Tour is hardly Uhlfelder’s first publicly noted bit of beach activism.
After HB 631 in 2018 allowed Walton County beach owners to declare their beaches private and remove trespassers, Uhlfelder, accompanied by friends and family, passively protested by setting up chairs in areas where they knew it would cause a ruckus.
Uhlfelder as been a constant thorn in the side of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who owns beach property in Walton County.
His Tweets made Huckabee mad enough that the one-time presidential contender filed a bar complaint alleging harassment. Huckabee asked the Florida Bar to make Uhlfelder stop tweeting about him.
Uhlfelder also sued Gov. Ron DeSantis at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak to force him to close the state’s beaches.
“Nobody is a bigger advocate of public access to state beaches than me – I love our beaches -- it’s one of the reasons I choose to live here,” he said in the release.
“But we must act in a thoughtful and sensible manner. With COVID-19, we still have no reliable data on infection numbers, hardly any testing and a limited amount of health professionals and resources in Walton County to deal with this pandemic,” he said.
As part of this campaign I am raising $20,000 to contribute directly to Democrats running for Congress. We are over halfway to our goal. Please consider retweeting and chipping in $20.20 here: https://t.co/konMKcrRsg— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) April 27, 2020