Parts of the Florida Keys may still be struggling to shed the impacts of Hurricane Irma, but the irreverent spirit that makes Key West Key West is undiminished.
(Pictured above, Queen & King Key West III, Donna Harvey & David Johnson frolic with dinosaurs at the Ugly Jacket fundraiser.)
The island is all in for Fantasy Fest, the iconic bacchanal already underway that runs through Oct. 29.
“We’ve moved from scrubbing mold and mildew from our walls to decorating orange wigs to delight the parade goers,” Val Marmillion, captain of the Mystick Krewe of Key West Mardi Gras organization, said in a press release. “We call it storm therapy, where we gather together in friendship, share creativity, and tell each other that all will be okay.”
With this year’s theme “Time Travel Unravels,” Marmillion’s group intends to parade as “our pre-historic ancestors.” (That’s Krewe Parade co-chair, Bob Harvey, ready to ramble as the Bedrock Police Chief).
“Expect to see ‘Boners & Stoners’ passing out 8,000 toy blinking bones, as they parade their troubles away for a night,” the Krewe noted.
Fantasy Fest comes amid an effort to boost the state’s tourism industry in the aftermath of the powerful storm, which scarred nearly every part of Florida last month.
Visit Florida is spending $5 million to advertise to the world that the Sunshine State — particularly, the Keys — is ready for business.
Gone from the Keys tourism website are notices about avoiding debris on the U.S. 1 drive for “creative costuming, offbeat artistry and a blend of colors.”
After weeks of hosting relief crews and reconstruction workers, the island is now also hosting several dozen masquerade balls, costume contests for humans and pets, a toga Party at Sloppy Joe’s and even — new this year — a Zombie Bike Ride.
— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.