Fantasy Fest draws revelers

A float themed "Mosquitoes in Control" rolls down Duval Street late Saturday in Key West during the Fantasy Fest Parade. The procession, which featured more than 70 floats and costumed marching units, was the highlight event of Key West's 10-day Fantasy Fest celebration that ended Sunday.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 11:48 p.m.
KEY WEST - Pre-election politics took an offbeat turn during Fantasy Fest, the almost anything-goes, 10-day masking and costuming festival that ended Sunday.
City Commissioner Tom Oosterhoudt and cohort Buddy Crane donned pink and lavender tutus, mesh stockings, and John Kerry and George Bush masks to portray what Oosterhoudt dubbed ''the Presidential Ballet with the Bush-Kerry Fairies.''
''This campaign's gotten so serious it was time to inject a little levity into the thing,'' said Oosterhoudt, the grand marshal of Saturday night's Fantasy Fest parade. ''The presidential candidates would get a lot more people watching them if they wore tutus.''
About 60,000 spectators lined the island city's Duval Street to view more than 70 motorized floats and costumed marching groups.
Entries included a giant white-winged Pegasus, a ''Billy the Squid'' whose colorful tentacles menaced crowds and a troupe of 10-foot tall dancing geckos.
Fantasy Fest provided a welcome boost for the Florida Keys' tourist-based economy. The summer's four Florida hurricanes spared the island chain, but evacuations hurt the Keys' summer tourism.
Key West hotels were virtually sold out for Fantasy Fest, and the rest of the Keys also had strong booking numbers. Traditionally, the festival accounts for about $30 million in visitor-related spending.
''We needed a break from the insanity of all the storms, so we thought we would come to the insanity of Fantasy Fest,'' said Regina Bonyadi of Longwood, who said her central Florida house, yard and new roof were damaged.
About 60,000 spectators gathered to view the parade.

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