Florida Keys — Costuming, characters and competitions will bring ghostly revelry to the Florida Keys this Halloween. The island chain is to host an array of lively hauntings sure to spook visitors above and below the water’s surface.
For devilish divers who prefer their spookiness submerged, the annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest is set for 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, hosted by Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort, mile marker (MM) 104 bayside in Key Largo. The contest is open to all certified scuba divers and is slated for the morning dive. Buddy teams each receive a hollowed-out pumpkin that is to be turned into a jack-o-lantern. Space aboard the dive boat is limited, so would-be competitors are reminded to sign up early. There is no contest entry fee, and the regular dive boat fee is $80 per diver for the two-tank dive. For information, call 800-426-6729 or visit www.amoray.com.
Spirits will inhabit the beautiful 63-acre Crane Point Hammock, located at MM 50.5 bayside in Marathon, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, during the annual Haunted Hammock. The haunting event is expected to feature ghosts, goblins, spooky hayrides, food, fun and a costume contest. The lush landscape will take a turn for the terrifying with trails and spook houses planned to send chills down visitors’ spines. For more information, call 305-743-9100 or visit www.cranepoint.net/events.html.
Nights of ghoulish delight are planned for the annual Haunting of Fort Zachary Taylor, a Civil War–era fort on Key West’s Atlantic Ocean shore. The spooky celebration is set for 8-11 p.m. Oct. 20-23, Oct. 28 and Oct. 30-31, with hours extending till midnight on Halloween. Fort Zachary Taylor will present two hauntings for guests’ frightening pleasure, the “Habitat for History” and “Habitat for Insanity,” and attendees must choose which path to brave first. Admission to the haunting event is $13 per adult, $10 for military members, $8 for kids and free for children 5 and under. Revelers also can don their most devilish gothic attire for the fort’s Vampire’s Ball, set for 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. In addition, tricks and treats for kids such as magic, candy and games are planned for 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23. For complete event information, visit www.hauntedkeywestfort.com.
Tens of thousands of party-lovers will descend upon Key West during the annual Fantasy Fest masking and costuming celebration. The 10-day festival takes on an undersea aspect with the theme “Aquatic Afrolic,” sure to draw celebrants ranging from seductive seafarers to mischievous mermaids. The highlight of the maritime madness is the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade. Set to take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, the flamboyant procession down Key West’s main drag, Duval Street, will feature dozens of lavishly decorated motorized floats, Caribbean bands and costumed marching groups. The following day, while revelers rest, a spook-tacular event for kids is to close out the festival. Set for noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, the traditional Fantasy Fest Children’s Day is a family event featuring food, arts and crafts, games and a costume contest in Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Eisenhower Drive. Visit www.fantasyfest.net for more information.
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS