26 October 2017
KEY WEST, Fla. -- Canines, felines, mammals and cuddly rodents took the stage in Key West during the annual Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade, a wacky costume competition for barking and meowing revelers and their human companions. 

Wednesday evening's “blast to the past” showcase of animal antics was a highlight of the island’s 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival, themed "Time Travel Unravels," that continues through Sunday.

Dogs, cats, a hedgehog, and even a “disappearing” rat dressed as a magician’s hat starred in the oceanfront competition that drew several hundred spectators. The contest featured 35 entries ranging from costumed pet-and-person duos to groups of people and animals staging lighthearted skits or dance numbers.

Standouts included a four-dog ensemble with Clifford the Big Red Dog, a bull terrier whose owners “Fluffy” and “Stretch” carried a giant book cover of the Scholastic children’s classic series, a loving Yorkshire terrier and Teacup poodle that were married onstage, and Maya the chihuahua portraying the smallest Key deer from Big Pine Key.
Hurricane Irma’s recent passage through the Keys provided inspiration for some costuming. Marcella Quintana Majeau and her dog Ruby entered with a faux debris-removal truck.

Others subscribed to the the festival’s time traveling theme. John Devaney and his pug Angelo were dressed in psychedelic garb in an entry titled “Steam Punk Accessory,” and “The Cat in the Hat” Jeannie Gray costumed her mischievous Boston terriers Maggie and Daisy as Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Pet Masquerade proceeds benefited the Lower Keys Friends of Animals.

Upcoming Fantasy Fest events include a lavish Headdress Ball, a masquerade march through Key West’s historic district and Saturday night’s flamboyant Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade that typically attracts some 60,000 revelers. 

Florida Keys tourism officials say hotel rooms are still available for the festival, but stress that reservations are necessary to ensure accommodations.

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