Fantasy Fest 2004

Halloween week in Key West


While many of us are constrained to wear socially acceptable costumes and identities in our everyday lives, there are still a few socially sanctioned opportunities to throw off our day-to-day persona and explore alternate identities. Halloween and the masking at Mardi Gras and Carnival come to mind. So does the behavior of many on holiday far from family, friends, and neighbors.

Combine the mask traditions of Halloween with the free-booting history and warm climate of Key West and you get Fantasy Fest®, over a week of parties, parades, outrageous fun and friendly competition leading up to October 31st. Since its inception in 1979, Fantasy Fest® has dazzled many with themes derived from Hollywood, Broadway and TV and moving back and forth through time.  Fantasy is given full play with both beauties and beasts on full display along with a healthy dose of piratical zeal thrown in for good measure as befits the Conch Republic. I’ve been photographing Halloween activities for a number of years and decided to experience Key West’s version and make my first visit to the southernmost point of the US (and yes, I did observe the obligatory Key West sunset).

The 2004 theme “Delirious Dreams and Hilarious Screams™” which was certainly accurate given the activity on Duval Street.  The festivities started with the Goombay Celebration on October 22nd and ended with “It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings Tea by the Sea” on the 31st with various events, parties, and parades all week long.  Check out the official website at for more information and further links.

One of the daytime events is the annual Pet Masquerade and Parade with separate categories for kids and adults.

The week leads up to the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade on Saturday night, comprising over sixty floats/groups and running close to two hours.

The scene on Duval Street (both day and night) was quite exhibitionistic.  Consequently, before visiting the galleries visitors must read the caveats and affirmations.

 The dates for 2005 event are October 21st to the 30th.

 Your browser should support frames to view these galleries. Page last updated 11/15/2004.

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