Fantasy Fest to Feature Party Animals and Apocalyptic Attire

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — More than 40 masquerade contests, themed parties, parades and other spectacles are to challenge the creativity of mask and costume designers during Key West’s Fantasy Fest, scheduled Friday, Oct. 19, through Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012

Held on the subtropical island whose natives are called “conchs,” the festival is themed “A-Conch-Alypse” to spoof an ancient prophecy that states the world will end in December 2012. Participants in events from the family-friendly Pet Masquerade and Parade to the lavish Pretenders in Paradise competition are expected to draw inspiration from the theme for their mask and costume creations.

Doomsday dogs, cataclysmic cats, exotic birds, lizards and other alien species are to invade Key West Wednesday, Oct. 24, during the wacky Pet Masquerade, a costume competition for domestic party animals and their human companions.

Entries typically range from simple pet-and-person duos to multimember animal-and-human ensembles staging choreographed performances. The apocalyptic animal antics are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at the Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St.

Judges traditionally award prizes for the top junior contestants, most exotic attire, best theme adaptation, best pet-owner look-alikes and overall winner.

General admission for spectators is free and VIP seating and cocktail packages are available, with proceeds benefiting Lower Keys Friends of Animals.

Fantasy Fest’s most elaborate costume competition is Pretenders in Paradise, set for Thursday, Oct. 25, on the beach at the Pier House Resort, 1 Duval St. Themed “Zombie Nation Vacation,” the gala typically features rapturous revelers wearing huge, lavish costumes adorned with feathers, sequins, unexpected elements and even moving parts.

The entrants entertain the audience with performances, complete with lights and music, lively enough to wake the undead. Cash prizes totaling $10,000 await the winning amateur, professional and group entries.

The preshow begins at 8 p.m. followed by the competition. General admission and VIP dinner packages are available. For information and ticketing, visitwww.pierhouse.com/Special_Events/index.asp.

Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY