The quirky Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade drew creatively togged dogs, costumed cats, and other “party animals” and their humans — all decked out to dazzle spectators during Key West’s renowned costuming and masking festival.
Wednesday night’s furry festivities were a family-friendly highlight of the 40th annual Fantasy Fest, a 10-day extravaganza themed “In Tune But … Off Key” saluting all things musical.
Pets and their owners starred in the waterfront competition. The contest featured some 40 entries ranging from costumed pet-and-person duos to groups of people and animals that performed lighthearted dance numbers.
Among notable entries were “The Tortoise and Hare” featuring a real tortoise carrying plush toy rabbit on top of its shell that was inspired by the classic fable of the same name. Others included a pug dog in a tutu and tiara, a family spoofing the “Toy Story” films and a scurvy crew of human and canine pirates.
Some participants took inspiration from Fantasy Fest’s musical theme, including overall winner Diana Benton of Titusville, Florida, who dressed her two felines as country superstars Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.
Proceeds from the Pet Masquerade benefit the Lower Keys Friends of Animals.
Fantasy Fest continues through Sunday with highlights including a lavish Headdress Ball, a masquerade march through Key West’s historic district and Saturday night’s flamboyant Fantasy Fest Parade that typically attracts more than 60,000 revelers.
Florida Keys tourism officials say hotel rooms are still available for the festival, but stress that reservations are necessary to ensure accommodations.