KEY WEST, Fla. — Prancing unicorns, dazzling floats and costumed marching groups entertained spectators Saturday night in a lavish parade, the highlight of Key West’s 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival that ends Sunday.
Sponsored by Bud Light, the Fantasy Fest Parade featured more than 40 entries, all proceeding through the island city’s historic downtown in front of some 60,000 spectators.
Some parade entries illustrated the festival’s theme, “Uniforms and Unicorns … 200 Years of Sailing into Fantasy,” commemorating the Florida Keys’ 2023 bicentennial and that of the U.S. Navy’s presence in Key West.
They included six uniformed marchers with huge blue wings depicting the Navy’s elite Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron, and an elaborate float and walking group portraying a Kentucky Derby for unicorns.
Among other standouts were a troupe of Caribbean-style dancers in glittering costumes and a “litter” of mischievous oversized felines.
Fantasy Fest’s final events on Sunday include a children’s carnival and an afternoon dance party.
The festival was launched in 1979 to boost Key West’s fledgling tourism economy during a typically slow time of year. Now, tourism officials said, it brings some $30 million in annual revenues to the Florida Keys.
Fantasy Fest 2024, themed “It’s a 90’s Neon Cosmic Carnivale!,” is scheduled for Oct. 18-27.