PARTY ANIMALS: FANTASY FEST ROYALS RAISE MORE THAN $500K FOR KEYS SPCA

Wow. Just wow. 

This year’s six-week fundraising campaign for King and Queen of Fantasy Fest netted a record-breaking $587,375 for the Florida Keys SPCA.

The Royal Coronation took place Oct. 20 at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater, where Ben Hennington and Tangela Torres were crowned, caped and sceptered as the 2023 King and Queen of Fantasy Fest. 

Their royal court includes Duke Shawn Montgomery, Duke Donald Wells and Duchess Vicky Rowden.

This is the first year the local animal welfare organization is the recipient of the king and queen campaign, after longtime beneficiary AH Monroe passed the torch last year.

“We’re just astounded, and incredibly grateful for the massive outpouring of support from the community, and especially to all five king and queen candidates, who worked their tails off these past weeks, hosting events, soliciting silent auction prizes and doing everything in their power to help our organization,” said Tiffany Dunsmore, development director for the Florida Keys SPCA.

“There was never a lull throughout the whole campaign. Donations kept coming in and all five candidates blew past their fundraising goals. And I truly believe it’s because every candidate was really in it for the animals.” 

The coronation ball included a variety show of performances by local drag performers and past kings and queens. 

Members of the royal court will have a place of honor in the Saturday, Oct. 28 Fantasy Fest parade and will have a busy week making appearances all over town.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.