KEY WEST (AP) — The outrageous masquerade and costume parties of the annual Fantasy Fest ended Sunday with a children’s event.
The highlight of the 10-day celebration in Key West was a decadent adult parade Saturday night. The procession attracted about 50,000 spectators and more than 45 floats, bands and costumed marching groups to the city’s famed Duval Street, festival organizers said.
Many entries illustrated the festival’s theme, “A-Conch-Alypse,” spoofing both an ancient apocalypse prophecy and the Florida Keys city where natives are called “conchs.”
Standout floats depicted a post-apocalyptic zombie ghost town, a mythological Atlas balancing a devastated world on his shoulders and a battle with destructive alien invaders at Key West’s landmark Southernmost Point.
One float lampooned the upcoming presidential election, featuring members of the “Zombie Apocalypse Political Party” encouraging support for “Zombiecare” and votes for “Eaton D. Brains for President.”
Spectators wore costumes, too, ranging from little more than body paint to elaborate and eye-catching ensembles.
“Everybody feels like a celebrity,” said Shaun Scott of West Palm Beach, who wore a horned Viking helmet and fur-trimmed cloak. “You can be an average Joe, but get a great costume and suddenly everybody is taking your picture.”
The festival’s weekend activities were staged under mostly clear skies. One Thursday evening activity was canceled when Hurricane Sandy’s outer rain bands brushed the island on its trek up the Eastern Seaboard.
“We’re going to miss the hurricane, darn it,” said Julie Scapparone, a partier from the Boston area who was draped in festival beads.
Following the parade, Fantasy Fest organizers announced that the October 2013 festival is to be themed “Super Heroes, Villains . & Beyond!”
Fantasy Fest got started in 1979 when several Key West merchants wanted to increase tourism during what used to be a slow tourist season. What was once a four-day event has matured to generate some $30 million in revenue for the Florida Keys’ vacation-based economy, officials said.