I am no great fan of crowds and noise and close proximity but realistically it takes all that and a wheel barrow-load of patience to enjoy the Saturday night Grand Parade. Fantasy Fest traditionally ends today with a tea party at La Te Da but to all intents and purposes the exhibitionism and public madness is over.
The last time I had the night off and got to see the parade was in 2007 so it was time to go downtown and check it out. The Fantasy Zone, the area where body paint counts as clothing and alcohol can be consumed on the street was marked by pink tape, the border between respectability and debauchery.
Talking to our server at dinner she said there seemed to be fewer people and less raunchiness which went over the top last year. That worked for her as watching people have sex at the bar was not her favorite memory. It also worked for me as I found the event not unpleasant, considering the squash. There seemed to be lots of people to me.
Before the parade itself fires up people get to stroll up and down Duval Street between the barricades to show off their costumes. I find it a bit limiting as bodies are in motion blocking views, but there we were.
And then sometime after 7:30 the parade made its way to us from the starting point on Whitehead Street.
And that was what it was; an intergalactic freak show. Every year people complain about the theme selected for the festival but this year "intergalactic" meant space suits and thumping techno music. Not exactly a local theme but there we are. The manager of the festival has lived in Key West three whole years so my favorite floats, commentaries on local issues, were noticeable by their absence.
And as they go they throw beads. I am indifferent to beads but my wife had promised them to her students. We caught and grabbed and stretched...
It went on...and on...and on...and the cool rush of refrigerated air from Irish Kevin's wasn't enough to keep us fresh enough to enjoy more music, more cigarette smoke and more beads. Time to go home.
And the bike was where we left it. A nice ride home in the cool night air; at home a vodka on ice was there to revive us. So long Fantasy Fest, and if you have to come back a relatively restrained one like this would be good.