Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Local's Parade

People think that because Fantasy Fest permits a certain level of nudity that there are naked people to be seen on the streets of Key West. Well, there are of course but the most common comment you'll hear from people who have actually been to Fantasy Fest is that most of the nudes shouldn't be.I understand there were more than 50 floats in the Big Parade on Saturday night. That's the event that wraps up a week of "balls" and assorted gatherings around town. Couples run for the title of King and Queen of Fantasy Fest and whoever raises the most money for Aids Help gets to keep the title for the rest of the year. All that is the official face of this event; the private face takes place on Friday evening, and like every private moment in public, that started out as a "local's" event the Local's Parade has become a very popular "Masquerade March" for locals and visitors of course.At 5pm people gather spontaneously at the Frances Street gate at the cemetery, line up behind the band on the truck and start walking. Half the parade goes down Fleming and the other part goes down Southard. My wife and I like to hang on Fleming Street, with the motorbike parked nearby and see what we can see. It's usually a good idea to find a comfortable wall to sit on, and plan to wait a while for the walkers to get to your spot. If you are in a hurry prepare to be disappointed.
The setting sun gives a very pleasant glow to the street around this time of evening this time of year. Of course, sitting on a wall waiting for the parade isn't all that it's cracked up to be. We had a party of people from Up North who had obviously drink taken and decided to tank up a little more with a brown bag from Fausto's. That was their opportunity to smear some Bud Light on my shirt and drop a can into the flower bed behind us. When I bent down to pick it up the woman looked at me squiffily, tried to say thanks and left the slimy can sitting on the wall after she wandered off somewhere. They made me glad I live out of reach of the main tourist zone. The parade shambled up eventually, after a few outliers appeared wandering down the street. And so the fun began, and I have to say that of course the local's parade has changed and everything today is worse in Key West than it was years ago, yada yada yada, but I like the local's parade and I enjoy the costumes even if I don't get all the cultural references. This one I got:Nudity is not a big part of the local's parade, it's a community gathering after a fashion, with people wearing fashions of their own making and I had a lot of fun grabbing snapshots of what I could, where I could as they drifted by. If you wants tits and ass this isn't really the space. riepe only wants tits and ass so he should go to the official Fantasy Fest pages I guess.
BP was another reference I managed to grasp.
I loved the contrast between the Sheriff's sergeant's hard core look and the beads. Fantasy Fest is one of those events where all police leave is canceled and dozens of county sheriff's deputies and state police come into town to help out. Most of the obnoxious drunks start plaguing the streets after the parade is over.
And some people might actually need help. Here's another political statement fresh and relevant to today's election...
I am not fond of hats but I do like the look of a top hat. Somehow they manage to invest almost any wearer with an air of gravity at least or possibly depravity under certain circumstances. The drummer on the truck just looked busy.
This headdress stood out from the crowd and the setting sun illuminated his young face and I failed completely to recognize Matt which caused him some hilarity.
Noel was stumbling alongside offering me some pink concoction that he said tasted "delishouse" and yes, it was a lot stronger than he had at first thought. "Ooh," Noel moaned, "look at him." His powers of observation were not apparently dulled by the pure alcohol he was injecting into his system. They obliged for Noel and myself. I guess he's hot but it's hard for me to tell.Robert and Dolly appeared out of the crowd, to my astonishment. I would not have expected Robert to disguise himself, rather effectively with gorilla tape, but there he was, groaning at the slow pace of the forced march. "Never again," he moaned, reinforcing my pleasure at remaining a spectator.
I have no idea what these people represent.Or her.
My wife wondered if Rich's buddies in New Jersey, where he spends his summers, knew what manner of fun he was having in Key West...There was fun to spare.
How regular people dream this stuff up is beyond me.
The ebb and flow of the local's parade is what gives it it's charm. Essentially it is a walk through town, in a crowd, wearing whatever oddness comes to hand. Some participants plan their costumes far in advance and appear in outrageous finery. Others not so much, but there are no awards here, no prizes, just the pleasure of a stroll and a chance to meet some friends.
My ability to check out the local's parade or the Saturday night event is predicated entirely on when I will be working. However if I can only get to the Saturday night event I am as inclined to skip it as not some years. Lately the floats that are produced locally with local themes seem to be overwhelmed by out of town groups that come down from the mainland with their cheesy plastic pirate ships and stuff and fully dressed crews who take up space in the parade for no particular purpose that I can see. This parade has retained more of it's down home flavor than you might think.
This next one was a response to the man known with more or less affection as "the sign guy" who chooses to stand on street corners around town with notices that say cheerfully "God Hates Fags" or better yet "God Hates USA" and all sorts of opprobrium falls on his head from time to time. Better to mock the stupid asshole like this than giving him the periodic beatings he so richly deserves:
They say the legalized marijuana imitative is going down to defeat in California.
I couldn't grab these headdresses before they waltzed by...
...but these two stood in the street for a few moments looking for all the world like conspirators. A simple hat makes a surprisingly effective disguise.
Perhaps we should have parked the car on the street to make a better viewing platform.
"Need to be vaccinated?" he leered most engagingly, waving around a huge syringe."Hey!" my wife grumbled as this huge lesbian construction worker jostled her.It turns out it was Scott, taking a break from programming movies at the Tropic. He makes a frighteningly female woman and enjoyed sneaking up on my wife.I think these were the real thing.
Above we have bondage divers (apparently) while below we have bed bugs seeking refreshment from the physician and his ice chest.This lot were rather disturbing in a nightmare sort of way.
Willie Wonka meets Quentin Tarantino.
This lot were pursuing some cultural expression that escaped me, French matelot stripy t-shirts and heavy Sartre type intellectual glasses. Beats me. Hmm.
Imagine walking, or tottering a dozen blocks in those things. Start 'em early.
And finally a grotesque block party at Simonton Street.
He did not seem the least bit impressed.
We had a good time and our getaway vehicle was right there, ready and waiting for us.
A fine way to spend an afternoon.