First Post-Irma Fantasy Fest Provides Solid Start To Tourist Season

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KEY WEST (CBSMiami) – Tropical Storm Philippe didn’t rain on the parade in Key West this weekend.

Saturday night tons of people came out for the annual Fantasy Fest celebration.

kwp051 First Post Irma Fantasy Fest Provides Solid Start To Tourist Season

A reveler dressed as Pac-Man chases women portraying storm ghosts during the Fantasy Fest Parade Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Key West, Fla. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

The area is hoping for a big economic comeback after getting hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

The rain and winds held off allowing the grand parade was just that, grand.

Throngs of people lined the streets in a party that everyone said was much needed for the community.

Pac-man, Doctor Who and the Flintstones all made an appearance at the Fantasy Fest parade.

It was more than a tradition, it was a way for residents and tourists to bring that Key West spirit back to life after nearly seven weeks of cleaning up after Hurricane Irma.

“It’s the spirit. It’s the renewed faith that all is right with the world,” said Key West resident Pat Borgens.

Through song and dance and smiles, a community came together to bring some love and a few much needed tourism dollars to an area that sorely needs it.

People lined up along the mile and half parade route to cheer on the more than 50 floats.

The festival goers came from near – Miami:

“Just to show the community that we support them, we got their back and we’re good,” said Miami resident Ricky Vazquez.

And far — Indiana — to celebrate and take part in a unique party that only Key West can throw.

“Everybody said you have to come once,” said Indiana resident Darla Green. “We will be back again next year.”

Hurricane Irma got a mention or two, like on a float from Big Pine Key.

kwp02 First Post Irma Fantasy Fest Provides Solid Start To Tourist Season

“The Wizard of Oz” heroine Dorothy, portrayed by Nikki Sommer, is menaced by elements representing Hurricane Irma during the Fantasy Fest Parade Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Key West, Fla. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

“That was nothing but a flatbed trailer a week ago,” said Big Pine Key resident Keely Final. “We build that all out Irma debris. 100 percent.”

It was a float born out of the devastation and destruction in one of the hardest hit areas of the Keys.

But like the float and the people on it, it’s a testament to the spirit of the Keys and the people who live here.

That they are resourceful and dedicated enough to rebuild and return better than ever.

“We all just tried to take a minute out of our day to have a little bit of normal,” Final said. “A little bit of fun in our lives again. This is part of what we do, why we all live here.”

City leaders acknowledge that the crowd was down this year. That was to be expected.

But they hoped for about 50,000-60,000 people on Saturday to boost the local economy and bring back the community’s spirit.

And they hope this weekend provides the spark for a successful and profitable tourist season.

More from Carey Codd
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