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Dunbar Easter Parade returns this Sunday for 78th year

Dunbar Easter Parade
Posted at 6:09 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-17 11:35:53-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A spring-time tradition is making its grand return this Easter.

The Dunbar Easter Parade will be taking over the streets of Fort Myers once again this Sunday.

"It’s really more like a celebration of family reunion. It has become that as opposed to not just a parade.”

For 78 years, the Dunbar Easter Parade has been marching thru the streets of Fort Myers. This Sunday that tradition continues. A tradition started by Evelyn Sams Canady an important civic leader in SWFL.

“We know that the Edison Pageant of Light Parade was engaged but, of course, people of color back then were prohibited from being a part of it," said Edward Hardin, Vice President of the Dunbar Festival Committee Inc. "So she wanted to find a way that the children could be a part of this event so she began this parade, this celebration, and kids would dress up on Easter Sunday in their Sunday best. They would dress up their bicycles and their wagons, and they would do this parade each year and it would get bigger and bigger from there.”

The event got its start back in the mid-1940s and since that time it’s grown exponentially. With thousands gathering in the streets. You might think it’s all about Easter, but it goes well beyond the holiday.

"They look at this as a way of coming back home to celebrate," said Hardin. "They get to be with family for the weekend and they get to see friends they haven’t seen in years. It’s surprising because, like I said, it turns out to be a huge family reunion for people that grew up in the heart of Dunbar.”

And organizing such a big event is no small task. Plenty of work goes on behind the scenes, but the mission always remains the same.

"We want to enhance it to its fullest potential so that everybody can feel inclusive and get to see Dunbar in a much different light from things that have happened in the past. Our slogan now is ‘Come see Dunbar.’ Dunbar is in the heart of the city of Fort Myers and so we want a very positive spin on our community.”

A positive spin shining a light on one of SWFL’s unique communities.

“When they see the outcome, that’s when people go, ‘Wow,’" says Hardin. "We realize that takes a lot of work. But we love it because we love our people, we love our community.”

The Dunbar Easter Parade will be this Sunday starting at 3 o’clock. You can find more information online right here.