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KEY WEST (CBSMiami) – Despite Hurricane Irma, ‘the show must go on’, or in this case the fest – as in Fantasy Fest.

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The flamboyant annual festival kicks off Friday in Key West and businesses are hoping it brings in some much needed tourism revenue.

“I think Key West and the Florida Keys need to take a little break and enjoy a little zany, quirky Key West celebration,” said festival director Nadene Grossman Orr. “I know that Fantasy Fest is going to lift their spirits and raise the community not only in mind and spirit, but financially.”

The 10-day event features masquerade balls, parties and costume competitions.

Conceived in 1979 to attract visitors, the festival traditionally brings about $30 million to the Keys each year. Its impact on the tourism-based economy, which employs about 50 percent of the local workforce, is particularly important this year, as recovery continues after Irma’s September 10th passage through the island chain.

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Themed “Time Travel Unravels,” the festival will feature events including a costume contest for pets, the exotic Headdress Ball and a masquerade march beginning at the Key West cemetery.

Upcoming events include the Zombie Bike Ride, a costume contest for pets and their people, the exotic Headdress Ball and a high-spirited masquerade march starting at the Key West Cemetery.

Saturday night, Oct. 28, the Fantasy Fest Parade is to travel through Key West’s historic downtown. The procession typically draws tens of thousands of spectators to applaud its costumed marching groups, street dancers, bands and lavishly decorated motorized floats.

Keys tourism officials advise hotel rooms are available, but suggest that attendees make reservations before traveling to Fantasy Fest.

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