The street fair has come to downtown Key West, focused mostly on Duval Street but also to be found on the approaches to the city's main drag, named for the first territorial Governor of Florida, William Pope DuVal, originally from Mount Comfort, Virginia. He came to Florida in 1822, served a month as a judge in St Augustine and was thereafter appointed governor of the new US territory ceeded by Spain. That was then, this is now.
Santa Mommy stopped traffic momentarily, but not the crowds on the sidewalk who swept me along like a leaf down the drain of perdition. I overheard some odd off the cuff remarks from assorted people walking around me (not necessarily the people pictured please note!) most of them taking beer glasses for a walk on this fabled street. But let's not forget, for one moment that Fantasy Fest cannot interrupt the basic functions of life in the Southernmost City. Some of us have to work! Me to be exact, Friday Saturday and Sunday nights similar to this sweating fellow Teamster.
Body painting is a big part of Fantasy Fest, and paint counts for clothing on any part of the body that isn't the genitals which must be covered.
It's not just body paint that is part of the commercial aspect of Fantasy Fest. Buy a coaster save a turtle. If it was that easy you'd think the reptiles wouldn't be on the endangered list at all.
But Fantasy Fest is about alcohol and middle aged, middle class libertines loose on the street in the "Fantasy Zone" which is the temporary name for Duval Street.
The cruddy fake 'Krewes' from Tampa were already cluttering up Duval Street. They marched around led by a dude with a whistle like a scout leader, and as they duck marched they were busy showing off their uniforms. These people bring big anonymous plastic floats to the parade Saturday that is meant to be a display of local talent expressing local sentiments. They make the parade long, slow and ultimately boring.
There was a comment in a previous essay about the essential beauty of a woman cycling Key West.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. I spared you a picture of the dude behind the dude under the smiley face. He was a well tanned older white guy sporting chaps and a circumcised penis not properly veiled by a piece of gauze.
"Hey Conch!" A familiar voice called. Doug Bennett of This Week on the Island was sitting on his porch watching the world go by. He said he was reminded of me when a guy wandered by wearing odd colored Crocs, green and yellow. "Got to work a lot harder to stand out in this town," he chuckled looking at my well worn pink footwear. We lamented the expansion of the parade to include outsiders, but clearly when a city commissioner owns a Duval Street bar...commerce is king. "At least he doesn't accept a salary for sitting on the commission," was Doug's parting shot.
And there he is the Commish in question. Give Mark Rossi credit, he rides his Zuma everywhere, and I guess he must have worn out his yellow 125 and replaced it with this white one, laboring valiantly beneath his ample girth.
Off Duval life continues as normal which for Key West's wild chickens means strutting their stuff under the klieg lights and cameras.
Did I say "normal?" As close as it gets around here and that might mean meeting Zorro the Gay Blade down at the end of Caroline Street.
Or a devil in an extremely tight fitting blue dress, as in " the devil made me do it."
It's Fantasy Fest so it's your fantasy to do with as you will. Me? I went home and took Cheyenne for a walk on Little Torch Key and got rained on again.
I don't know how people live in the chaos of Old Town but perhaps one day I may have to find out, life is full of twists and turns. Meanwhile I prefer to enjoy the peace and serenity of the backwaters at Mile Marker 27.
Me, lightly disguised as a rather rain soaked off duty police dispatcher far from the madding crowds of Fantasy Fest, just where I wanted to be. Soon enough there will be lots of 911 calls from distraught happy people, alcohol soaked and confused by life. It will be my pleasure to show them the light at the end of the Fantasy Fest Tunnel, the start of the long road home back to safe and normal.