Michael Blades and his wife Kathy Kilroy used to work on elaborate floats for Fantasy Fest's big parade. Now they're putting their efforts into newer events that are not part of the official festival roster, like the Zombie Bike Ride.
Fantasy Fest started 35 years ago as a way to bring visitors to Key West during what had been the slowest time of the year. But locals have always been a big part of it -- the 10 days of street fairs and costume parties, and the culminating parade, for which 60,000 crowd the island's downtown.
"I was on a float for, like, 19 straight years," says Key Wester Michael Blades. He and his friends built elaborate parade entries and won the grand prize three times. But they're not entering this year.
Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post by WLRN contributor Mark Hedden.
An estimated 8,000 zombies invaded Key West the night of Oct. 20, pedaling on bicycles across the Cow Key Bridge and muttering about brains. But the takeover was not unexpected and had a police escort.