With Hurricane Sandy Steering Clear of the Keys, Fantasy Fest Continues
KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Key West officials and organizers of Fantasy Fest said the annual 10-day costuming and masking festival is continuing despite Hurricane Sandy's path well east of the Keys.
"We had to cancel the Pretenders in Paradise contest Thursday night, but all other events for the remainder of the festival are to continue as planned," said Linda O'Brien, Fantasy Fest's director. "We have been and will continue to work closely with local officials and the Key West National Weather Service office to ensure revelers are safe."
Although the Keys continue to remain well out of the National Hurricane Center's forecast track error cone for a core impact, the potential for an expanding wind field motivated cautious forecasters to continue a tropical storm watch for the southeast Florida coastline including the Upper Keys.
Key West meteorologist Bill South said the watch would not be extended into the Lower Keys and Key West. The watch for the Upper Keys is likely to be discontinued by Friday afternoon.
South also said he does not foresee the potential for tropical storm-force winds throughout the rest of the Keys, but did say it would be quite breezy with sustained winds of about 25 mph (with gusts to 35 mph) through early Friday. Winds should begin to decrease slowly Friday afternoon.
Indeed, it was winds of more than 25 mph, coming off Key West Harbor, that forced officials at the Pier House Resort & Caribbean Spa to cancel its popular Pretenders' costume competition that was slated for Thursday evening. The brisk breeze made it to risky for competitors with large costumes to safely make to the outdoor stage, said Pier House General Manager Joy Smatt.
Smatt said prepaid general admission ticket sales made by credit card will automatically be refunded. Tickets paid for by cash or check can be refunded by visiting the Pier House's reception desk.
Keys infrastructure is operating normally throughout the Keys at this time including Key West International Airport.
Motorists should use extra caution while driving on exposed roads and bridges during periods of high winds.
Most other events in the Keys this weekend should continue as well, but attendees should check with organizers in the event of unannounced changes.
Key West Fantasy Fest: fantasyfest.com
Key West National Weather Service: srh.noaa.gov/key
National Hurricane Center: nhc.noaa.gov
Oct. 26, 2012 • 8:15 a.m.
The Friday-night masquerade march is to parade through Key West's historic Old Town and is free to enter and watch. The 2012 promenade is to start at 5 p.m. at the Key West Cemetery's Frances Street entrance. Image by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau
The official forecast track for Hurricane Sandy, as issued by the National Hurricane Center Friday at 2 p.m. Yellow shading indicates areas under a tropical storm watch. The blue indicates a tropical storm warning. NHC Graphic.