Hunter S Thompson's widow is holding a massive star-studded party instead of a wake for the writer's funeral this Saturday (20AUG05) - to honour his final wish.

The lavish bash, which will be attended by 250 guests including actors Sean Penn and Johnny Depp, will include readings from Thompson's work and live musical performances.

The unusual ceremony will also see the cremated remains of the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas author, who was a huge fan of explosives, being shot into the air over his Woody Creek, Colorado home.

Hollywood star Depp - who portrayed Thompson in the 1998 movie version of the bestseller - is financing the send off, and has been busy constructing a special cannon so he can blast his late pal HUNTER S THOMPSON's ashes into the sky.

According to the New York Post, the memorial platform/cannon will be unveiled on Sunday (21AUG05) and has been modelled on Thompson's Gonzo logo: a clenched fist, made symmetrical with the addition of a second thumb, perched above a dagger.

Thompson's widow ANITA insists the upbeat celebration is perfect for the unconventional star.

She says "No crying, no tears, only celebration. He wanted people to celebrate.

"He envisioned it to be a beautiful party. The most amazing people would be there.

"His friends would celebrate his life. And he was even specific that there would be clinking of ice and whisky."