KEY WEST — Arrr you ready to party like a politician, pundit or pirate?
The Florida Keys' annual 10-day Fantasy Fest party began Friday. The theme: Pirates, Pundits and Political Party Animals — a nod to the upcoming election.
The festival will include more than 40 masked balls, street parties, marches and costume contests — including one for pets. As a result, masks of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and presidential candidate Barack Obama are top sellers at a local boutique.
Fantasy Fest's traditional highlight, next Saturday night's parade down Key West's Whitehead and Duval streets, typically attracts some 60,000 revelers. And it will have a political theme, too.
One float is Obama Mia, a play on the musical Mamma Mia, said Sue Cooper of the Lazy Dog watersports charter company.
Cooper said they'd have Obama and McCain heads on the float, Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton's back — trying to ride his way back into the White House — and a voting booth with hanging chads.
At the kickoff Coronation Ball on Friday night, Key West residents Timothy Brown and Kate Miano were crowned Fantasy Fest king and queen.
The two won the titles by being the best fundraisers among a group of royal candidates. The group amassed more than $200,000 for AIDS Help Inc.
The festival ends just before the 2008 presidential election.