Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Edison Jr. Parade: Sights and Sounds
Edison Jr. Parade: Sights and Sounds: Sights and sounds from the Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade featuring area high school bands Sunday in downtown Fort Myers.
A float drives by during the Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade in downtown Fort Myers. / Amanda Inscore/news-press.com
Kids participate in the Edison Festival of Light Fun Run Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

Winners

Junior court
>> Queen: Mandy Christine Wiltshire
>> King: Maddox Michael Freshwaters
>> Princesses: Bailey Hope Ballantine, Lillian Stuart Brown, Dinah Claire Ceilley, Abygail Jamie Clements, Eden Annabelle Hoffman, Elizabeth Neal Manibo, Caroline Elizabeth O’Halloran, Amelia Grace Workman.
>> Princes: Marc Edward Adams, Grant Philip Gilmore, Cayden Kristoff Keene, Kyle Timothy Keene, Maxwell James Murnane, Chase William Nelson, Jackson Cole Peacock, Amarion Jordel Watkins.

Junior parade awards

Most Outstanding
Erickson, Partipillo & Dozier-Bartlett Families: Pardi Gras in Edisonia

Most Outstanding - Civic
Littleton Elementary Lariats & Lace Dance Team: Setting Sail for Edisonia

First Place By Category

Walking - Non-Performing

Gateway Elementary School: Unmask Your Love For Reading

Family Music Time: Floatin’ to the Beat of Edisonia

Walking - Individual

Ash Family: Hooked on Edisonia

Strollers

Youngblood Family: Up & Coming to Edison’s Parade

Wagons

Andrew Spring: Mr. Edison, Inventor of the Original Internet

Bright Beginnings Pre-School: Mr. Edison, We’re Diving Into Learning

Trikes and Bikes

Wolin & Ficarro Families: Mr. Edison is the User. Tron In Edison

Manually Pulled Floats

Makena Bell: Mr. Edison’s Tea Party

Scout Floats

Cub Scout Pack 330

Motorized Floats

Giovanelli, Bright, Richards, Hall, Murnane, Shirley, Kornya, Logan, Myers, Molloy, Hoffman, Moreland, Lee, Fried and Fitzgerald families: i-Tuned into Edisonia

Civic Association Floats

Bayshore Elementary Cloggers: Clogging with the Wolves

FMHS Little Wave: Growing Future Greenies

More

There are layers upon layers of stories at the Edison Festival of Light’s junior events that link the present-day celebration to those of years past.

As thousands of children and adults lined downtown Fort Myers on Sunday to enjoy the festival’s junior activities – fun run, parade and coronation – all one had to do was ask and there it was, a link to past parades and other events.

One such story belonged to former Cape Coral resident Ashley Underhill.

Underhill, now living in Davie near Fort Lauderdale as her husband Tommy attends college on the east coast, brought her 10-month old son, Owen, to the baby’s first Edison event.

But by a long shot, Owen isn’t the first Underhill to be an Edison participant.

“My father was involved in the parade in 1965 when he was a junior king,” Underhill said. “And I was in the parade at six weeks old and I was a past princess.”

But the Edison-Underhill connection doesn’t stop there. “My husband was in the court in the main parade, and that’s how we met,” she said.

This year, dad is on maneuvers with the Air Force Reserve in Tampa and couldn‘t attend.

Her father-in-law, Tommy Underhill, rode in Sunday’s parade as president of the Edison Pageant of Light.

“You could say it is a family affair,” said Rene Younger, Ashley’s mother.

Both women were participating in this year’s parade by pulling a baby carriage with Owen acting as the filament in an Edison light bulb.

“Over the years we’ve been mermaids and fish and baseball players and Olympians and flowers,” Younger said.

Other Underhill/Younger connections include a Younger grandfather who was a stadium announcer for the festival in the 1960s, and uncle Dan Younger, who was a junior king also in the 60s.

Hopefully, Underhill said, the family will continue the festival involvement until Owen is old enough to make up his own mind.

Until then, “Next year we will make things a little more elaborate,” she said.

Even among the youngest set, there was evidence of festivals past.

As 2011 Junior Festival queen Krista Tyre patiently sat on her float “throne” awaiting the end of her reign, little girls and boys who would take up the scepter for 2012 filled in the benches below her.

(Page 2 of 3)

Bailey Ballantine, 7, was one of them, sitting demurely all in white with a fur stole holding off the chill. Her brother had been on the court last year.

When asked if she wanted to be queen, Bailey quietly said yes.

However, her father, Cory Ballantine, said his daughter has been so excited the past few weeks that she has been wanting to wear her white pageant dress all the time.

“Bailey’s brother Colby was on the court in 2010,” he said. “And her uncle Rick was on the court in the ’70s.”

Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson also had a story to tell. The mayor’s children, now in their 20s, were all festival participants, he said.

“My children were in the parade after they were born and even before,” Henderson said, explaining that his wife was pregnant during their participation in the parade one year.

The mayor was pleased about the enthusiasm at the junior events this year. “Every mayor in America wants this going on the their city,” Henderson said.

He touted the festival events as an excellent way for parents, children and communities to bond.

“Families get together in neighborhoods, build floats and get a real sense of community,” Henderson said. “It is an amazing tradition.”

Watching over things before the parade got started, Brian Hamman of Century Link, the event’s title sponsor for the second consecutive year, reminisced about his involvement in past parades.

“I marched in the parade with the Cape Elementary school choir,” he said.

Hamman, manager of marketing development for Century Link, said the company’s involvement is the best way they can say thanks to the community for its support.

Pre-Junior Parade figures showed that this year’s children’s procession was the largest ever. There were more than 2,000 children registered in the A section – walking and non-performing groups – alone.

Adding the children participating in the bands, walking individuals, wagons, scouting groups, dance troupes and all the floats, the number likely exceeded last year’s 3,000 child total, festival officials said.

(Page 3 of 3)

4:25 p.m.

Thousands flocked to downtown Fort Myers today as the Edison Festival’s junior events began.

Throngs of children raced up and down Edwards Avenue for the fun run and the downtown streets were lined with young and old alike as the parade got started.

Even though temps were in the low 50s, those watching the parade – most dressed for the cold -didn’t seem to mind the weather as they cheered and clapped for the thousands of children who marched, walked, and rode floats.

The crowning of the 2012 Junior queen and king was scheduled for later in the afternoon

1:13 p.m.

Despite the chilly weather thousands of children in Southwest Florida will take over downtown Fort Myers for today's Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade and Fun Run.

Festivities kick off with the Junior Fun Run at 1 p.m. for children in grades five and below. The race starts at the corner of Edwards Drive and Hendry Street and ends at Monroe Street and First Street.

The race is followed by the Junior Parade at 2 p.m., which begins at the corner of First and Jackson Streets. The parade will make its way down to Second Street, turning west towards Monroe Street and head to Edwards Drive where it will end at Jackson Street.

Motorists should expect the following roads to be closed:

Edwards Drive

Jackson Street, between Second Street and Edwards.

Second Street, between Jackson and Monroe Streets.

Monroe Street, between Second Street and Edwards Drive.

The roads should reopen after 4:30 p.m.

More In SS: Special Sections

Top Stories

Local Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers on Marco Island

GET DEALS NOW

Marco beach cam

RESTAURANTS

Find local restaurants, read
and submit reviews

Celebrating the best of South Lee and North Naples

READ MORE

Reader Photos

Get the Hurricane Hub app

DealChicken.com

Sign up to save 50-90% off SWFL dining, shopping, spas, activities and more. Every day.