Florida Keys

The people (and dogs) here sure love wearing a tutu. Now, the mayor wants it official

A dog wears a tutu as a loofah costume during the 2018 Fantasy Fest.
A dog wears a tutu as a loofah costume during the 2018 Fantasy Fest. FLKeysNews.com

Stick around Key West long enough and you’ll see plenty of tutus, those tiny puffs of skirt worn by ballerinas.

They’ve become a symbol of carefree living in Key West, donned by the gay, the straight and even the local mail carrier while on duty.

Even dogs, big and small, wear tutus in the Southernmost City.

Locals donned tutus for this year’s TuTu Tuesday party and parade during Fantasy Fest. Kathy Gilmour

Then there’s Fantasy Fest’s famous Tutu Tuesday party and parade every October and at least one tutu 5K race a year. And the outfit has become dresswear for the party set.

Now, Key West’s new mayor, Teri Johnston, says it’s time for the island city to make its obsession with the tutu an official thing.

Johnston is backing a proclamation, set for consideration on Jan. 2 at City Hall, to deem all Tuesdays on the calendar “Tutu Tuesdays.”

Johnston says she has worn a tutu throughout the years. It’s currently in storage.

Tutu Tuesday is family-friendly, the mayor said. And while it seeks to promote Key West — the proclamation calls to garner “long-term, positive media attention for Key West — it isn’t trying to market a particular business angle in the city.

“You don’t have to buy anything,” she said. “It’s harmless fun.”

More tutus at Key West’s amphitheater at the Truman Waterfront Park. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

The proclamation reads that “The City of Key West, Florida, joins in encouraging all residents and visitors to engage in creative, fun, low impact events of all ages, cultures, religions and all economic backgrounds to spread love and acts of kindness throughout our community.”

The proclamation, while not a law, is meant to “encourage” locals and tourists to wear tutus on Tuesdays “wherever they go,” it reads.

It gives credit for the idea to the Key West Creative Collective, a new group formed by a trio of locals — Barb Grob, Christa Hunt and Mark Certonio — who each run businesses in town.

Certonio said there was a meeting with Johnston, and the idea was a hit.

“It’s basically something to tell our guests that we’re a happy town,” he said.

To ring in 2019 as the year of the tutu, the collective will host a TuTu Tuesday Forever party on New Year’s Day starting at 2:22 p.m. at Sunset Pier at 0 Duval St.

Businesses are encouraged to sign up, for $100 this year and $222 afterward, to be listed on promotional materials, and possibly offer deals to customers wearing tutus, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.