Elaborate motorized floats, costumed marching groups, bands and colorful dancers entertained tens of thousands of spectators Saturday night as the Fantasy Fest Parade rolled through Key West’s historic downtown.
The flamboyant parade — a spectacle that hasn’t been staged since 2019 because of the global coronavirus pandemic — highlighted the island city’s 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival that ends Sunday with more quieter events including a Children’s Day at a local park.
Some of the procession’s 35 entries illustrated the 2022 Fantasy Fest theme of “Cult Classics & Cartoon Chaos,” depicting characters from cult films, favorite cartoons and classic offerings across the entertainment realm.
Parade standouts included a lavish Alice in Wonderland ensemble with costumed marchers ranging from the Mad Hatter to the Queen of Hearts and a “Sesame Street” spoof featuring a huge flock of dancing yellow-feathered “chickens.”
Conceived more than 40 years ago, Fantasy Fest has grown to be the Florida Keys’ largest annual event. Tourism officials said it accounts for some $40 million in economic impact to the island chain each year.
The 2023 festival, themed “Uniforms & Unicorns: 200 Years of Sailing Into Fantasy,” is scheduled Oct. 20-29 and salutes the Florida Keys’ 2023 bicentennial.