Key West is readying for the racy 10-day Fantasy Fest, beginning Sunday and culminating with a 7 p.m. parade down Duval Street on Oct. 26, and there's a lot to know to have a fun -- and legal -- experience.
With tens of thousands of people expected for it -- including 60,000 to 70,000 for the parade -- there will likely be increased traffic congestion leading up to the Saturday finale.
On Oct. 25, the Masquerade March takes two routes, leaving the City Cemetery at 5 p.m. and arriving on Duval Street around 7:30. City spokeswoman Alyson Crean says "the streets are not closed along these routes so motorists can expect delays and are advised to take alternate routes."
The same day, Duval closes between Front and South streets beginning at noon. On Oct. 26 at 10 a.m., the closure extends from between Front to United Street.
"Streets will stay closed until the Police Department decides it is safe to reopen them," Crean said.
Things start pit this Sunday with a Zombie Bike Ride, expected to draw some 4,000 undead participants. It leaves from WeCycle on U.S. 1, Stock Island, then rolls down South Roosevelt Boulevard to Bertha Street, then onto Atlantic Boulevard to Reynolds, then down Duval beginning on the south end.
There are no hard street closures but there will be police accompaniment and congestion is to be expected along the route and ancillary streets.
Regular city bus service will continue as usual until 4:59 p.m. Oct. 26, prior to the parade, at which time all city and Lower Keys buses convert into free shuttles sponsored by Captain Morgan.
The shuttles will operate until 2 a.m. Oct. 27 with the last trip from Key West to Marathon leaving at 12:30 a.m. and the last city bus pickups at 1:45 a.m.
The designated pickup and drop off point is Fausto's Food Palace at Fleming and Bahama streets half a block off Duval Street. Real-time bus route and timing information is available at www.kwtransit.com.
Parking is available at city lots at Caroline and Grinnell, Caroline and William or Angela and Simonton for $2 per hour. The city's Mallory Square lot or the Westin Key West Resort and Marina garage on Front Street both cost $4 per hour.
Despite the widely held perception about Fantasy Fest, public nudity is prohibited.
Women can't expose their breasts, although breasts covered with body paint are allowed but only in the so-called fantasy zone. That area runs the length of Duval Street and covers all cross streets between Whitehead and Simonton streets.
Body paint must be applied in an enclosed area, out of public view and while it should go without saying, public sex acts are off limits.
As outrageous and elaborate costumes are the norm, it's also important to remember that while toy weapons are not explicitly banned, you're better off not using them.
But if your costume simply must have one, make sure it's clearly a fake. Law enforcement will be watching for anything resembling a weapon. Laser pointers are another no-go, as are backpacks and coolers.
In an effort to dovetail with a new citywide residential recycling pickup program, the city will place 200 blue recycling carts in the busiest areas of Old Town, complementing the 200 containers "normally deployed," Crean said.
City Solid Waste and Recycling Coordinator Will Thompson said the idea is "to help give our residents and guests every possible chance to do the right thing and recycle during Fantasy Fest."
The theme of the party this year is Super Heroes, Villains and Beyond." Specifics of all Fantasy Fest events are at www.fantasyfest.com.