The lavish procession is the traditional highlight of the annual Fantasy Fest masking and costuming celebration, set this year for Friday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 29. Tens of thousands of people, many of them arrayed in outrageous costumes, are expected to throng the island’s downtown streets to view the internationally recognized parade.
Floats and costumes are likely to reflect the 2017 festival theme, “Time Travel Unravels,” with organizers encouraging entrants to draw inspiration from exotic past eras or fantastically conceived future worlds.
Many float entries each year include music, moving parts and elements that tower over the audience. Creativity and artful design are rewarded with prizes as well as enthusiastic responses from Fantasy Fest crowds.
Grand marshals of the 2017 parade are the Florida Keys Media US 1 Radio 104.1 team that remained on the air throughout Hurricane Irma’s Sept. 10 Keys “visit” and its aftermath. Serving as a calming presence and vital information source, the team quickly became regional heroes.
Pre-parade activities begin at noon Saturday with the open-air Duval Street Promenade, where vendors are to offer masking and costuming finery and accessories. Exuberant entertainment, as well as food and libations, are scheduled to add to the festival frolic.
At 7 p.m. the Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade is to begin at the intersection of Key West’s Southard and Whitehead streets. Floats, bands and other parade participants are to travel down Whitehead toward the Gulf of Mexico, turn onto Front Street and then proceed the mile up Duval to the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the parade, a street party with high-energy music mixes and dancing is scheduled outside Key West’s Custom House, a landmark museum at 281 Front St. When midnight strikes, the 2018 Fantasy Fest theme is to be revealed to party attendees.
Event information: fantasyfest.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
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