Our founders, Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, were real pillars of the Key West community. Not only did they come up with the idea of Key West Aloe, they also donated their time and money to multiple organizations, were both voted Humanitarian of The Year and are part founders of Key West’s own Fantasy Fest.
So what is Fantasy Fest?
It’s kind of hard to describe but Fantasy Fest is a 10-day street festival that invites grown-ups to come out and play while still celebrating the Florida Keys culture. It’s essentially one big party where everyone can come and have a good time. On top of that, many of the events raise money for local non-profits. Who doesn’t love a party that gives back?
So how did it get started?
Back in the day, October in Key West was a pretty slow time. The tourists that flocked to the island during their summer vacation were now back at work or school and were not due back until later in the year closer to Christmas. It was so slow that many businesses closed their doors for a few months deciding it was better to relocate than attempt to stay open during the “slow season.”
One October day in the late 70s Joe Liszka brought Frank Romano down to Duval Street and pitched him a grand idea – To host a huge celebration in October that will drive tourist to Key West and help boost the economy during the slow period. We imagine Joe painted a very exciting event because not only did he get his partner to agree to help plan this party, he also looped in two other local businessmen to help execute the first Fantasy Fest.
It took the foursome an entire year to plan the first parade. Over 5,000 people showed up to enjoy the festival and thanks to a few outspoken people, the event gained more and more attention having up to 75,000 people from all over the country flock to take part in the fun events.
Fun & Fundraising
The 10-day extravaganza is jam-packed full of adult-themed fun. There are costume parties, family fun bike rides and Halloween themed 5Ks, cultural and art events and of course parades!
While Fantasy Fest is all about enjoying yourself, the festival also has some altruistic moments. The 2017 Royal Coronation Ball is a fundraising event that raises money for AIDS Help. The King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are the candidates who raise the most money for AIDS Help. Last year, the candidates raised over $173,00 for the health organization.
Are you going to Fantasy Fest? Check out the full schedule on the Official Fantasy Fest Website. Also, sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.
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