MIAMI (CBSMiami/FKNB) – Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who became the first person to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys without a shark cage earlier this month, has been selected to be this year’s Grand Marshal of Key West’s Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade on October 26th.
The parade is the traditional highlight of the island city’s lavish 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking celebration, scheduled Oct. 18-27 and themed “Super Heroes, Villains… & Beyond.” Organizers selected Nyad as to lead the procession after she completed the 111-mile swim across the Florida Straits in just under 53 hours — the fifth time the 64-year-old athlete had attempted the grueling crossing.
“Given the festival theme this year, Diana is the perfect choice,” said Fantasy Fest Director Linda O’Brien. “The physical and mental strength she displayed during her swim prove she’s a real-life superhero.”
Nyad is to lead the parade on a float decorated to commemorate her marathon swim.
The flamboyant procession typically includes more than 50 decorated and motorized floats, many towering two stories high and featuring music, light shows and oversized moving parts. Accompanying them are Caribbean bands, marching groups and street dancers garbed in elaborate sequined and feathered costumes.
“My little mountain people were the conchs of Key West,” Nyad said at a post-swim news conference comparing her past four summers in Key West to Mount Everest climbers who stay and are often embraced by people in Nepalese villages waiting to ascend the Himalayas. “It’s a pretty great place to be (and) I’ve enjoyed all my time in Key West.”
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.