Crowds filter in to fill Jackson Street for the 79th Annual Edison Festival of Lights. Spectators stake out their spots; bearing fold-up chairs and blankets. Tonight, Thomas Alva Edison’s impact is honored in celebration of both the old and new. The fashion staple of the evening is wearable glow sticks. The youth bask in excitement, awaiting the spectacle of lights and activities to follow. Children sit at the perfect vantage point on the shoulders of their parents. The older among the viewers are front row, lining the street in plastic chairs ready to commemorate Edison’s impact on the city they call home.
The mood heightens as the procession begins. Loud cheers erupt from the crowded sidelines. A dedicated team holds tightly onto the strings of a sunglass-wearing lightbulb float balloon, as they shepherd it down the parade route. A troupe of drummers march proudly in sync, fully illuminated in a neon glow. The faces of the crowd light up with each passing entertainment.
The festival illuminates an important intersection of history and the present. Thomas Edison’s Fort Myers home overlooks the Caloosahatchee River a mere mile from the parade. The 200,000 spectators that line the 2-mile route share not only spaces in the crowd, but also a sparkling celebration of the invention of the lightbulb. The inventor’s impact lights up the hearts of all in attendance and will forever remain a defining memory of the most famous member the community of Fort Myers.