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Junior Parade continues Edison Festival of Light

By Staff | Feb 14, 2009

Sunday afternoon is for the kids.
The 62nd Annual Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade kicks off for the 62nd year Sunday in downtown Fort Myers.
As a precursor to next week’s main event, the Edison Festival Grand Parade, this family friendly event is catered to the kids and their parents.
Families often build elaborate and fascinating floats with intricate themes based on films like Star Wars.
Organizer Diane Maddox said she expects upwards of 50,000 people to descend on the downtown Fort Myers corridor for the event.
“This parade is really aimed at the kids,” Maddox said. “I’m expecting many thousands of people if the weather is nice, and we’re expecting nice weather.”
The parade began in 1947, referred to back then as the “baby parade.” As a child, Maddox marched in the parade.
“My mother built me a little float … my children were in the parade, and now my grandchildren are in the parade.”
Maddox speculates that the parade has endured for so long because of the way it celebrates the family, they way they band together to make a float or have a presence in the parade.
“I think because it’s a family thing it’s been around so long,” she said. “We have generations that come with it. Families get together and pool their ideas … they think of an idea and build a float to go with it. It’s real ingenious.”
This mini version of the grand parade has no age limits for participants. Kids don’t have to be atop a garish and ornate float. They can ride strollers, wagons, even their own two feet.
Awards will be given out in various categories for the floats (some as big as 65 feet long), strollers, and wagons. The parade also will feature multiple civic organizations, high school bands, professional sports mascots, and “thousands” of Boy and Girl Scouts, according to Maddox.
“I really encourage everyone to come out and see the parade. There’s going to be a bunch of families and kids,” Maddox said.
The Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade begins at 2:30 p.m. at the corner of First and Hendry Streets.
A junior run, with distances of 50 yards to one mile, proceeds the parade at 1 p.m., entry fee is $5.