The experiences one has in the Keys will last a life time

Andy Newman with the Tourist Development Council and Newman PR, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

Fantasy Fest is going strong and the TDC helps a lot.

Newman said, “Also the ATD, the Association of Tourism Development in Key West that has basically managed Fantasy Fest for quite a long time.”

The Fantasy Fest Masquerade March will be held tonight where about 20,000 people will be taking place.

Newman said, “What I love about the local parade, the Masquerade March is my favorite Fantasy Fest event. We do a lot of a lot of photography and videography of different benefits. It’s such a great time. A lot of folks really go out all the way up with super creative costuming.”

The Bud Light Fantasy fest parade is the other big parade that happens at 7 p.m. on Saturday on Southern and Whitehead streets.

Newman said, “Over about $30 million in direct economic impact to the tourism based economy. It’s not just Key West, by the way,that impact is actually felt in Marathon and a little bit up in the Upper Keys.”

There is also a residual effect of people who come back for repeat visits.

Newman agreed, “It’s like that with a lot of events. For instance, the annual Hemingway Days Festival that goes on in July to mark Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. I always say that event, especially is something that it’s a gift that keeps on giving because we get a tremendous amount of international publicity, especially for the coverage of the annual Hemingway lookalike contests. The value of that alone is in the millions and there’s very little TDC money that’s expended on Fantasy Fest. These events, not only create, direct economic impact, at the time that they’re happening, they also do a lot to boost awareness of Key West and the Florida Keys, awareness to travelers around the world.”

The fishing and crab industry is also a big draw.

Newman said, “Quite honestly, the commercial fishing industry is just so important to the entire image of the Florida Keys.”

What is Newman’s favorite memory of Fantasy Fest?

He said, “There are there are many. And some we don’t want to talk about probably. But what I remember most was the very first Fantasy Fest I ever attended, which had to have been in ’80 or ’81. I remember that you could walk down Duval Street and you could roll a quarter down the street, and you wouldn’t hit anybody, if you can believe that. This was on a Saturday night parade night, you could not hit anybody at all. I remember that year, walking along and a lot of times we look for news photos that just immediately identifies Key West. I was trying to find something that was sort of symbolize that and all of a sudden I look up and I see somebody’s dressed up as the southernmost point marker, and he’s and he or she’s walking down the street with a Fidel Castro look alike. So when they pass in front of Sloppy Joe’s, I had my photo. Which by the way, was in black and white, we really weren’t dealing with color back then because that was a complicated project to be able to transmit that the United Press International and the AP.”

Another big event was the Diana Nyad swim 10 years ago.

Newman said, “I got this little idea that we should get the Turtle Hospital involved and have her help release a turtle to sort of mark the occasion, which she just loved that idea. So last Sunday morning at nine o’clock, Diana and her expedition leader, helped the turtle hospital release a 120 pound female green sea turtle at the Spanish beach, the same point where Diana came out of the water a little more than 10 years ago.”