Advertisement

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

Edison parade prep
Edison parade prep: Mike Johns of LaBelle prepares a viewing space for his family to watch the Feb. 16 Edison Festvsl of Light Parade. Video by Michael Braun
Locals reserve sidewalk space along U.S. 41. / Andrew West/news-press.com
Steve and Loring Strickland, co-owners of Bartley's Sporting Goods, 2555 Cleveland Ave. Have had an Edison parade party at the store since 1996. / Michael Braun/news-press.com

Coming Sunday

Our “Month of Edison” coverage continues with a special 75th anniversary section that highlights this year’s calendar of events for the festival of light and the pageant and looks back at highlights over the years. We will also have coverage of the annual Thomas Alva Edison Regional Science & Inventors Fair, including photo galleries and video at news-press.com/edison.

Grand Parade route

From Fort Myers High School down Cortez Boulevard to Llewellyn Road, north on Cleveland Avenue to Main Street, east on Main to Monroe Street, north on Monroe to Edwards Drive, east on Edwards to Jackson Street and south on Jackson back to Main.

More

It’s tradition, pure and simple.

The tape, stakes and ribbons that have sprouted from Fort Myers High School to Harborside Event Center, marking off prime real estate to watch the 75th Edison of Light Grand Parade in two weeks, is almost as big a part of the parade as the parade itself.

All along the route there are sidewalk and grassy areas — some large, some small — divided off with group or family names identifying those responsible.

Diane Maddox, a community volunteer and a past president of the Edison Festival of Light board of directors, said the taped areas have been up for some months.

“Some have been up since Thanksgiving,” she said.

For Mike Johns, 38, loaded with an armful of wood stakes, ribbon and tape Wednesday, the marking of a viewing spot takes him back to his own childhood here.

“I grew up in Fort Myers,” the LaBelle resident said. “ I want my kids to see and do what I did as a kid.”

Johns, his wife Stacey, daughters Jacie, 16 and Lacie, 5, and son Colton, 9, will view the parade from a 15-foot section along Cleveland Avenue near Lee Memorial Hospital.

“I didn’t do this for a while. I was chasing girls and that,” he laughed. However, now that he has a family, Johns said it was important that the tradition resumed.

“We always liked to sit on the curb and my kids like to do that now,” he said. “We used to be so excited for days before, waiting for the big ship that had a cannon that was in the parade, to come along and throw out candy.”

The chance to renew acquaintances, sharing good times, food and the parade with old school chums, friends and family members is part of the allure, Johns said.

“My mom has a big family. Back then, they’d invite friends to come and watch,” he said. “Now, years later, we get to reconnect with them at the parade. It’s fun.”

While the tape and wooden stake method appears to be the norm, not so long ago people spray-painted their names on the sidewalk. Remnants of that practice, discouraged by a $150 city fine if caught by police, can still be seen in the faded sprayed family names on some sections along Cleveland Avenue.

(Page 2 of 2)

The tradition of marking spots with lawn chairs has also vanished, though nobody is sure why.

As recently as 2005, the chairs, many of them locked to fences or buildings, some just sitting free of chains, appeared on the route.

Mike Titmuss, in the city’s code enforcement office, said there aren’t any regulations that he is aware of against putting up a chair in advance

“People just stopped doing it,” Maddox said.

Business parties on

Fort Myers natives Steve and Loring Strickland weren’t so sure being on the parade route was a good thing when they bought Bartley’s Sporting Goods to 2555 Cleveland Ave. in 1995.

“We had friends and customers ask us ‘so, you going to have a parade party,’ ” Loring Strickland said. “The deal was bring a chair and bring a dish.”

Now, 16 years after they had their first party, their celebrations are a bit more organized.

“We shove all our racks back as far as we can, I put up sheets and we cover the counter for all the food,” Loring Strickland said. After a few years of a preponderance of chicken and desserts, she said the store now has the party details down to a science.

Connect with: MichaelBraunNP (Facebook) @MichaelBraunNP (Twitter).

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.