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Edison Festival of Light announces Grand Parade marshals

By Staff | Feb 8, 2011

The Edison Festival of Light is gearing up for the Grand Parade on Feb. 19 and it will be bigger and better than ever! This weekend is a primer with the Junior Parade presented by CenturyLink, on Sunday, Feb. 13, at 2:30 p.m., in the Downtown River District. More than 130 units, including 14 marching bands will entertain crowds and get them in the spirit for the Grand Parade.
Grand marshals were announced today as follows:
— Nate Allen – NFL Free Safety- Philadelphia Eagles
Raised in Cape Coral, Allen played North Fort Myers Pop Warner football for eight years and then attended Cape Coral High School where he played quarterback and threw for more than 5,000 career yards. He was a three-time all-area player and Class 5A honorable mention all-state as a junior and senior. Also an accomplished basketball player, he averaged 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 steals in 2005-2006 and was named 2nd Team All-Area. Nate graduated in 2006 as an honor student.
He went on to attend college and play football at the University of South Florida while maintaining a 3.6 GPA. Allen stepped into the spotlight with a huge sophomore season in 2007, making 84 tackles, intercepting four passes, breaking up eight others and leading the Bulls onto the national scene when they beat 17th-ranked Auburn. Allen won the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week Award for his performance in that game. He played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in 2010 and was rated as a first or second round talent by most NFL Draft experts.
Allen was drafted 5th pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He started as the Eagle’s free safety in his rookie year. “The Golden Child,” as some of Allen’s teammates have called him, has the genes and physical style NFL teams like in their free safeties.
— Chris Johnson – Houston Astros Rookie of the Year
Johnson is the son of former major-league baseball player and current Boston Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson. He grew up in Fort Myers and played Little League baseball in South Fort Myers. He attended Bishop Verot High School and played college baseball at Stetson University in Deland Florida.
Johnson was drafted in the 37th round by the Red Sox in June 2003, but instead opted for college. In 2006, Johnson was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft. He was called up to the majors for the first time on Sept. 7, 2009.
In the 2010 season, Johnson batted .308 with 105 Hits, 22 doubles, 11 HRs, and 52 RBIs in just 341 at bats and was named Astros’ Rookie of the Year. He took over as the starting third baseman midway through the season.
— Indianaoplis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team Inc.
“Law Enforcement Ambassadors of Good Will”
Each year, thousands of people throughout central Indiana and all across the country experience the thrill of seeing the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team perform. Appearing at countless parades, elementary schools, children’s hospitals, charitable events and community functions, the Drill Team serves as Law Enforcement Ambassadors of Good Will to our communities.
The officers on the Drill Team perform on their own time. They currently ride Harley-Davidson Road King Police Motorcycles. These motorcycles are assigned to each officer and are used in their daily traffic law enforcement duties. The team executes a multitude of precise and difficult drills requiring months of practice and choreography. The thrilling performances require both concentration and athletic ability to maneuver the 800-pound precision machines.
Performing each year prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500-mile race, the team is a perennial crowd pleaser. The team has also had the honor of appearing and performing in several presidential inaugurations. Additional performances have included events in Queensland, Australia; Las Vegas, Nev.; Baltimore; Chicago; Fort Myers, Florida; New Orleans; Dallas; Amarillo, Texas; Richmond, Va.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Milwaukee; Oshkosh, Wis.; and Duluth, Minn.
— Honorary Grand Marshal – People’s Choice – Susie Mae Spear Bennett
A Native of Fort Myers, Bennett was born here 99 1/2 years ago, and a park was recently named in her honor due to the many contributions that she made to preserving local history and the native palms of the area. She has demonstrated her determination and willingness to overcome challenges on many occasions. No doubt, Bennett would brave the cold if it’s cold on parade night, and love every minute of it. Given the fact that she received her diploma directly from Thomas Edison, it’s fitting that she be in a parade honoring him. Her daughter and great granddaughter were Queens of the Edison Pageant of Light in past years. She was involved with everything “Edison” during her life in Fort Myers.