Lavish Parade to Highlight Key West’s Fantasy Fest Oct. 28
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Revelers can marvel at huge and extravagant floats, masked and costumed characters, and exotically garbed marching groups Saturday, Oct. 28, during the Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade through Key West’s historic downtown.
The lavish procession is the traditional highlight of the annual Fantasy Fest costuming and masking celebration set 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 festival theme, “Uniforms and Unicorns … 200 Years of Sailing into Fantasy.” The imaginative theme commemorates the Florida Keys’ 2023 bicentennial and that of the U.S. Navy in Key West, as well as the Keys’ uniqueness and near-mythical nature that also characterizes the fabled unicorn.
Many float entries each year include music, moving parts and elements that tower over the audience. Creativity and artful design are rewarded with cash prizes as well as enthusiastic acclaim from Fantasy Fest crowds.
In keeping with the 2023 festival’s maritime-inspired theme, the parade’s grand marshal is “Admiral” Finbar Gittelman, a founder of the Conch Republic that’s widely known as the Keys’ lighthearted alter ego. Famed as the First Sea Lord and Supreme Commander of the Conch Republic Military Forces, Gittelman is a venerable mariner and beloved personality who built and skippers Key West’s flagship Schooner Wolf.
The Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade is to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Key West’s Southard and Whitehead streets. Floats, bands, marchers and dance troupes in glittering costumes are to travel down Whitehead toward the Gulf of Mexico, turn onto Front Street and then proceed the mile up Duval Street to the Atlantic Ocean.
Spectators can observe and applaud the dazzling procession from designated streetside areas or reservation-only viewing parties at emporiums and historic sites along the route.