Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade to Star ‘Party Animals’ Oct. 25
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Dozens of masquerade contests, themed parties and other spectacles are to challenge the creativity of mask and costume designers during Key West’s Oct. 20-29 Fantasy Fest celebration — but none more than the eagerly anticipated Pet Masquerade.
Scheduled Wednesday, Oct. 25, the family-friendly costume competition is designed for dogs, cats, birds and other domestic animals accompanied by their human companions. The offbeat event typically draws entries ranging from pet-and-person duos to groups of animals and people staging choreographed performances.
Many entries are likely to reflect the 2023 Fantasy Fest theme of “Uniforms and Unicorns … 200 Years of Sailing into Fantasy,” saluting the Florida Keys’ bicentennial and the U.S. Navy’s two centuries in Key West.
Furred and feathered contestants might be attired as canine space cadets, saucy sailors, four-footed football stars or other uniformed originals — or adorned with the horn of a mythical unicorn.
For more than 25 years, the Pet Masquerade has been owned and produced by QuePasa KW Inc. to benefit the Lower Keys Friends of Animals. QuePasa’s Nancy D’Amato is to emcee the quirky contest with local radio personality “Rude Girl.”
The 2023 competition is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park, 21 E. Quay Road.
Each year, several dozen people and pets prance across the amphitheater stage as spectators applaud. Judges traditionally award prizes for the top junior contestants, most exotic attire, best theme adaptation, best pet-owner look-alikes and overall winner.
Highlights of past years’ masquerades have included a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" ensemble featuring four basset hounds, a lion tamer with a canine "lion," an Italian greyhound costumed as the late rock star Prince, and a large troupe of people and animals spoofing the 1988 film "Beetlejuice."
General admission for spectators is free, with ample seating and space for attendees’ blankets and lawn chairs. Food and beverages are to be available for purchase on-site, so coolers are not allowed.
Registration for competitors begins at 5 p.m. and the fee is $25 per category.