KWP01KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Dressed-up dogs, frolicking felines and other party animals are to steal the spotlight Wednesday, Oct. 26, during the annual Pet Masquerade and Parade in Key West.

The wacky costume contest for domestic pets and their people is a highlight of the island city’s 10-day Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival. Set for Oct. 21-30, the exuberant extravaganza is themed Aquatic Afrolic in celebration of all aspects of the ocean realm.

Costumed canine, feline and avian entrants are sure to make a splash as they vie for prizes on an outdoor stage at the Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria resort located at 1500 Reynolds St. beside the Atlantic Ocean.

KWP03-1Event organizers encourage entrants to draw inspiration from the festival’s aquatic theme, perhaps fitting fins on furred and feathered friends or dressing them as doggies of the deep, feline sea lions or piratical parrots.

Entries typically range from pet-and-person duos to lavishly costumed groups of people and animals that perform musical numbers or skits. Past competitors have included a leather-clad dog “driving” a tiny hot rod, a “cocktail-loving” cockatoo, a hairless cat in goggles, and an Asian ensemble starring a Great Pyrenees dog as a giant panda.

Registration for the 2011 Pet Masquerade begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Casa Marina. The contest begins at 5:30 p.m. emceed by well-known local personalities.

The contest entry fee is $25 per category, with proceeds benefiting Lower Keys Friends of Animals. Admission is free for general viewing or $20 per person for VIP seating including two libations and a donation to Friends of Animals. Organizers request that spectators leave nonparticipating pets at home.

For details, contact Pet Masquerade organizer Nancy D’Amato at or 305-304-1026.

Event information: or

Key West visitor information: or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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