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Fantasy Fest Begins With King, Queen Coronation

Andy Newman
Florida Keys News Service
People dance on the streets of Key West during Fantasy Fest in 2015.

The Florida Keys' wacky and often-decadent costuming and masking festival is kicking off with a coronation ball to crown the 10-day festival's king and queen.

Fantasy Fest begins Friday in Key West. The celebration started in 1979 when a small group of Key Westers dreamt up the event to bolster business between summer and winter.

There are almost 100 events this year, including Sunday's Zombie Bike Ride, the Wednesday Pet Masquerade and next Friday's Masquerade March. The Fantasy Fest Parade is set for next Saturday night and is expected to attract more than 60,000 revelers.

King and queen candidates campaign by raising money for AH of Monroe County. Since 1989, the competition has raised more than $4.5 million for the organization that helps Keys residents affected by AIDS and HIV.