KEY WEST (CBSMiami/Florida Keys News Bureau) — To avoid the risk of potential COVID-19 transmission, organizers of Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest announced Thursday that they’re canceling the 2020 festival.

The large-scale masking and costuming event was scheduled for Oct. 16-25, but festival director Nadene Grossman Orr said organizers and Key West city officials believed that canceling it was the most responsible course.

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Fantasy Fest typically draws some 60,000 people to Key West’s Duval Street for its highlight parade, as well as several thousand revelers for its annual Masquerade March, costume competitions and parties.

A float depicting a rainbow-colored piano keyboard and revelers proceed up Duval Street during the “In Tune But … Off Key”-themed Fantasy Fest Parade Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Key West. (Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Grossman Orr cited changing COVID-19 regulations, increasing cases and current CDC guidelines as factors in the decision not to hold the 10-day festival.

Developed in 1979 to bolster off-season business in the Florida Keys’ tourism-based economy, Fantasy Fest generates about $30 million in annual revenues for the island chain.

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About half of the local workforce is employed in tourism-related jobs, officials said. The Keys reopened to visitors June 1 after being closed to nonresidents for 10 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Grossman Orr said festival officials will work with community-based organizations to raise donations and disperse them to those most in need in in Key West.

Fantasy Fest 2021 is scheduled Oct. 22-31, 2021.

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