The Southernmost City in the Continental United States got an early jump on Halloween with its 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival that concludes Sunday night.
Saturday night, some 60,000 revelers gathered in the island’s historic downtown to view the Fantasy Fest Parade. A festival highlight, the flamboyant parade attracted 51 motorized floats, bands and exotically costumed marching groups.
Some entries illustrated the 2018 Fantasy Fest theme of “Oh … The Games We Play!” that paid tribute to everything from old-style board games to role-playing fantasies.
Parade standouts included a lavish Candy Land board-game ensemble featuring super-sized human lollipops, a massive dragon float surrounded by marchers saluting television’s epic “Game of Thrones,” large-scale Monopoly takeoffs and a prancing troupe of red-garbed monkeys “aping” the Barrel of Monkeys game.
Among other showstoppers were interactive beer pong challenges and a float surrounded by gauze-winged “angels” that became the setting for a real-life marriage proposal.
Florida Keys tourism officials said Fantasy Fest brings approximately $30 million in revenues to the island chain each year. This year’s festival featured nearly 100 different events.
The 2019 festival, themed “In Tune but Off Key — Celebrating 40 Years of Fantasy,” is scheduled Oct. 18-27.