Coronation Ball Kicks Off Ten-Day Fantasy Fest In Key West

KEY WEST (CBSMiami/AP) — The masked balls, parties and costume competitions of Fantasy Fest are underway in Key West.

At the Friday night coronation ball, locals Mark Patterson and Liz Ketcham were crowned king and queen of the 10-day festival. Aspiring royals campaigned by raising money for the Florida Keys’ AIDS Help organization. They collected nearly $142,000.

Officials say the flamboyant annual festival has a $30 million impact in the Keys. The first Fantasy Fest was in 1979.

Fantasy Fest culminates Oct. 27 with a nighttime parade featuring costumed marching groups, Caribbean bands and floats.

This year’s theme, “A-Conch-Alypse,” spoofs an ancient apocalypse prophecy. The Florida Keys island chain was nicknamed the “Conch Republic” after a tongue-in-cheek secession from the U.S. in 1982.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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