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Sunday, August 11, 2019


        Miraculously, Mike McFall did not die in the demolition derby five years ago. He was with us until this morning when an angry case of cancer took our surfing fireman friend on his final ride.

       We met Mike at the King Mango Strut Parade many years ago. He and his wife, Gina, were wearing the first of the parade costumes that they soon became famous for. While the New York native was employed as a fireman, his life outside the firehouse was more like that of a jazz-loving beatnik, a finger-snapping off-beat daddy-o artist. 
       Below:  Mike in one of his original costumes for our "Love Parade" at the Grassroots Music Festival, 2014.


He often shared original jokes that were truly "out there". When he stopped chasing fires a few years ago he told me he wanted to do two things, find work as a comedian and to participate in a demolition derby. When he later shared his car-smashing experience I told him, "That's it. Tell that story on stage and you'll have them rolling in the aisles!". He added he had done it "to get in touch with my inner whiplash", a typical Mike joke.

        Always an original, he showed up at last March's Gifford Land Art Stroll with a table and a bag. "What's your thing today?" I asked.  "I'm selling pot holders", he replied showing me his two creative lines, one that held hot cookware and hot (well... lit) pot. He spent the day telling jokes and sold quite a few of his wife's creations.

      He and Gina raised two fine sons, Jesse and Mario. Often the family would go surfing in Costa Ricaor on other incredible adventures. Their vintage Toyota camper was covered with murals and poetry.

     Mike was the ultimate Grove Guy. Born in '47, he grew up to be wild, crazy, and unpredictable; he and Gina were in over thirty King Mango Strut parades. Besides the Strut he loved dancing, drinking, Conan O'Brien and most of all, the Cleveland Indians.
Gina modelling one of her outstanding creations.
    As the parade's director, I could always depend on the McFalls to help with anything and to march in outlandishly original costumes.  I remember him best as "Aquaman". He filled out the colorful skin-tight outfit his artist-wife had created perfectly with his muscular, lean physique.  Dancing up Main Highway he did "The Swim".

      While Mike did many admirable things in his life he was proudest of his family. On visits to his art-filled home he'd tell us about his kids and show off the latest McFall creations. These could include their honor-system roadside mango stand, sleek surfboards and Gina's bicycle that looked like a rolling dolphin.

      For this Critical Mass Bike Ride the McFalls had us wearing their fish helmets.  Always hilarious,  he kept us grinning (like Francesca in the blue fish helmet).

     I could always depend on Fireman Mike to make things happen. When we put on our Weird Wynwood parade eight years ago I asked him to lead it.  I was on the other end pushing it forward.      
    Five minutes after we stepped out two cops tried to stop our jovial procession for parading without a permit. While Mike jabbered endlessly about how we were not really a parade, two hundred of us paraded past them. Like every good fireman, he was dependable and got things done.
     Sudden pain sent him to Baptist Hospital last Sunday. On Monday, when cancer began taking him quickly, he let it be known known that he wanted no part of the cold, machine-laden scene.  Half-conscious he protested vigorously until all agreed it was time take Mike home.  An ambulance returned our friend to the hand-painted artist's lair on SW 59th Court.
    In the house guarded by coconut and mango trees he took his last breath this morning surrounded by art, his music, and those who loved him most. 
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  1. Strutting the unknown, equipped with a wry smile, behind him trails a streamer made of our love.

  2. He was such a part of our lives. He will be missed.

  3. MCFall, never-ever, never-failed at being one of the best of the Grove. His Grove, home to a noble highly-talented diverse family doomed for extinction!

  4. OMG...what was that news!!!! He was absolutely necessary in the Strut...Was such a great Mango!!! Mike & Virginia had the best costumes EVER....Such a great couple.....So sorry to have to hear this Virginia..PEACE & LOVE to you...>Sonia

  5. he LIVED A GREAT LIFE.. bravo bravo

  6. What a charming & unique character and what a loss to those he touched here in the Grove 🌴

  7. dear Glenn: Thank you for such a fitting tribute to my "best friend." We will miss him so much, but have gotten past the grief and now hold on to the memories, and all the good times Sine and I shared with Michael and Regina. He was funny, laughed at my jokes and me his, would drop everything to lend a hand, talented, and was a true free spirit with extreme non conformist tendencies and an active dislike of authority. He will always inspire me to "Be Like Mike." Brent & Sine

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. All true. King Mango taught us to never trust authority.