Masked balls, extravagant costumes, marching groups, floats, fountains of booze — the whole mysteriousness behind Key West’s newest group is piquing interest around the island.
After moving to Key West five years ago, Valsin Marmillion, noticed its likeness to his native Louisiana. Being a member of several krewes in New Orleans over the years, he envisioned a krewe for Key West, for locals by locals. It’s working —120 of the 150 slots are filled, and the quiet word is spreading quickly.
The Mystick Krewe of Key West is designed like a traditional NOLA Krewe, with hints of inspiration drawn from Carnivales throughout the world.
“It’s not the typical Key West people you see out everywhere,” said Diane Eliopoulos who was drawn to the idea of a Mardi Gras-like festival for Key West. “I think it is amazing to be a part of something this special.”
Eliopoulos is a lieutenant of one of 10 groups made up of 15 people each, all of which were personally invited to join. Other lieutenants include Marmillion, George Fernandez, Juan Pisani, David Whidden, Kimber Tracey, Jack Smith, Jennifer Smith, David “DJ” Johnson, and Frank Wormuth. They each represent a House: Bling, Clubbers, Rudders, Wings, Critters, Fins, Paws, Flora, Reef, and Wheels. The names of the troupes are designed to represent a special aspect of Key West. “It’s not that easy to get in,” Diane said, adding that creative, happy people are at the top of her list.
The next social will be the Ugly Jacket Party to be held on Saturday, Oct. 15 hosted by Captain Val and his lieutenant partner Juan Pisani. Other events planned include a float in 2016’s Fantasy Fest, with its own parade in February of 2018. In 2017, the “Bal Masque” — with a Marrakesh Express theme — will be held at the Key West Theatre in February, where members will be brought into the Sahara Desert with images of flying carpets and Aladdin magic and meet a Royal Court.
Marmillion said the Krewe raises money for youth and community activities, and last year were able to donate some funds to animal welfare non-profits. If invited, a $250 fee covers the member and a guest for events. The biggest thing, he said, was that all the parades and events will be family and children friendly. Eliopoulos said to imagine beautiful costumes, extravagant gowns, and the best looking floats Key West has ever seen.