24 September 2014
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Revelers dressed as comic-book heroes, characters from Japanese manga and other colorful creatures are to parade through Key West’s historic Old Town Friday, Oct. 24, during a high-spirited masquerade march that begins at the local cemetery.
The march is a highlight of the annual Fantasy Fest celebration, an uninhibited masking and costuming festival scheduled Oct. 17-26 in the island city. Featuring more than 40 lively events, Fantasy Fest 2014 is themed “Animeted Dreams & Adventures” in salute to traditional Japanese anime and other forms of creative animation.
The masquerade march typically draws thousands of merrymakers wearing everything from elaborate feathered masks to offbeat ensembles inspired by the festival theme.
Free to enter and watch, the promenade is to start at 5 p.m. at the Key West Cemetery’s Frances Street entrance. Participants proceed along two routes, stopping for libations at bed-and-breakfast inns along the way.
Spectators line the streets of Key West’s historic district, applauding and sometimes joining in, before the march reaches its end at the Fantasy Fest Street Fair on mile-long Duval Street. 
Recent years’ participants have included a “101 Dalmations” troupe featuring dancers costumed as puppies, a trio of archangels with huge white-feathered wings, a flock of “flamingo men” dressed in fluffy pink tutus and a scaly green “dragon” that towered above the crowd.
The march is a prelude to the annual festival highlight, Saturday night’s 3Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade through Key West’s downtown district. Each year the glittering procession includes dozens of lavishly decorated floats, costumed marching groups and high-energy island-style bands.
Event information: www.fantasyfest.com
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