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Pioneer Club eyes 64th annual picnic

By Staff | Apr 11, 2013

It’s hard to believe that some people in Lee County have lived here for 50 years.

But they’re out there, and on April 27, at the Lee County Civic Center, those people are invited to attend the 64th annual Pioneer Club picnic.

It is an annual celebration for those club members, of which one of the requirements is you must have been a resident of Lee County for at least 50 years.

There are sure to be many reconnections with old friends, as well as reminiscing about the good old days, when Lee County was not much more than farms and cracker homes.

“The idea is to keep people in contact with those who have been here for so many years,” said Deborah Vause-Crowe, publicity chairman of the Pioneer Club, who was born and raised in Lee County and has six generations of Lee County residents in her clan.

“My uncle recently passed away. He was one of the old Florida crackers from LaBelle and Alva,” Vause-Crowe said. “They recognize things like Fort Myers High School’s Class of 1963, its 50-year reunion.”

The club was founded in 1950 by R.A. Wilson, who was director of the Lee County Bank, as a way of recognizing those who had been in Lee County since the turn of the century.

At the picnic, people can fill out a form to join the club. There is no charge to join, but you have to have been a 50-year resident of Lee County.

“It provides the old families of Lee County the opportunity to come together and preserve the history of the county, where they spend such a large part of their lives,” Vause-Crowe said.

The event will be held at the Tinsley Pavilion from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, and there is no charge for parking.

High school classes of 50 years ago will be honored, as will the people who travelled the longest distance, been married the longest, who has lived here the longest and the oldest.

Approximately 1,200 invitations were sent out, up from 1,000 last year, of which two-thirds lived in the area. More than 650 attended last year’s picnic.

Among the weekend perks are free admission to the Edison/Ford Estates, Southwest Florida Museum of History and the Burroughs Home and Garden Tour by showing your Pioneer Club membership card, Vause-Crowe said.

Lunch is optional, for $10.