KEY WEST (CBSMiami/FKNB) – A towering Batman, floats carrying costumed superheroes and villains, and real-life athletic hero Diana Nyad starred in the Fantasy Fest parade, the highlight of Key West’s 10-day costuming and masking festival that ends Sunday.
Festival officials said the Saturday night parade drew some 60,000 spectators and featured more than 40 glittering motorized floats, bands and marching groups in elaborate costumes promenading through Key West’s historic downtown.
Its grand marshal was Diana Nyad, 64, who recently swam from Cuba to Key West. She rode on a float commemorating her triumphant arrival near Key West’s landmark Southernmost Point marker, surrounded by marchers dressed as jellyfish with trailing tentacles.
“Labor Day — only seven weeks ago — I and my team walked up onto Smathers Beach, and that was the last time I was in Key West,” said Nyad. “The dream was achieved, and now I’m here sheerly for the wild, raucous time of Fantasy Fest.”
Many parade entries illustrated the festival theme, “Super Heroes, Villains… & Beyond.” Standouts included a troupe of Wonder Woman look-alikes who “battled evildoers” during a spirited dance number, a “Transformers” spoof featuring marchers in elaborate robot costumes and a float that starred fictional superhero Batman rising 40 feet above the crowds to hover protectively over “Gotham City.”
And troubles with professional sports players using steroids inspired the “Heroes to Zeros” float featuring a giant syringe, and a troupe of nurses and baseball players.
Florida Keys tourism officials said the festival brings approximately $30 million in revenues to the island chain each year.
Fantasy Fest 2014, themed “Animéted Dreams & Adventures,” is scheduled Oct. 17-26.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.