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LIGHT UP THE NIGHT: 86th Annual Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade lights up the city

Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 17, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade lit the streets of Fort Myers Saturday night. The 86-year-old tradition stays strong in the city.

Especially for long time locals Joanne, Loring and Suzie.

"It means a lot. So much because we've been friends for so long. It's the thing that we do," Joanne Prevatt said.

She and her friends went to Fort Myers High School together in the '60's and even marched in the parade. Years later, they still watch it together every year.

"It's all community and that's what's important," Prevatt’s longtime friend Loring Strickland said. Strickland said she used to watch the parade from her grandparents porch right on Cleveland Avenue.

Like Joanne, Loring and Suzie, Chris Gatewood wants to pass down the community tradition to his children. They saved their spots hours before the parade started and brought pizza too.

Gatewood said, “I'm born and raised here, so we've been coming here for as long as I can remember. So, we're just trying to pass on the tradition to our kids too as well."

The night time parade celebrates Edison’s light bulb and is the largest and longest running parade in Southwest Florida.

Year after year, marching bands, police and other local floats light up Cleveland Avenue and make their way downtown. The Edison Festival of Light said this year’s parade would be larger than before with 25 more units which means more floats, marching bands and people.

Cole Peacock and his family have watched from the same spot for more than a decade.

He said, “We started with my parents, and it was a great tradition, and my brothers and I have kept it up. We've been in this spot here for about 15 years."

While the sirens and music maybe too loud for some people, the lights keep a smile on everyone's face.

"I think it's a great tradition. I'm glad we can continue to do it. Especially with all the times we go through and instances taken place it's nice to be able to do this,” Peacock said.

A Fort Myers tradition shining brighter than ever.