Edison Fest 2024: What to know about the big parades, car shows, VIP seats and more (2024)

Charles RunnellsFort Myers News-Press

CORRECTION: Crafts on the River takes place Feb. 17-18 at Caloosa Sound Amphitheater in Centennial Park. A previous version of this story listed an incorrect location. Also, details about the Cracker Dinner program have been corrected.

They're two of the biggest events to hit Fort Myers each year: The Edison Fest Junior Parade and the Edison Fest Grand Parade. Just ask the thousands who attend every time, waving and cheering from the sidewalks.

But there's more than parades to see at this year's Edison Festival of Light. The 86th-annual event offers more than two weeks of fun, including car shows, a garden festival, a sing-along concert and a pet parade.

It's all to honor and celebrate Fort Myers' most famous winter resident, Thomas Edison. The inventor first came to Fort Myers in 1885 and lived next door to his equally famous friend, car manufacturer Henry Ford. Their former homes are now operated as a popular Fort Myers tourist attraction The Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

Here’s a closer look at all the Edison Fest events happening this weekend and later in Fort Myers. For more information, call 334-2999 or visit edisonfestival.org (unless otherwise noted).

Antique Car Show

More than 100 antique cars from local clubs and car owners are displayed on Henry Ford’s lawn along the Caloosahatchee River. Plus food, live entertainment, informal tours with living history characters and a Model T tour and lecture with Edison & Ford staff and car owners. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3. $25 admission includes access to the museum site. Edison & Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., downtown Fort Myers. 334-7419 or edisonfordwinterestates.org

Mrs. Edison’s Hymn Sing

Sing along at this 34th-annual event named after Mrs. Mina Edison, wife of famous Fort Myers resident Thomas Edison. The two shows feature the First Presbyterian Sanctuary Choir, guest soloists and more accompanied by piano and organ. 1 and 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6. Doors open 30 minutes before each performance. Free admission (although canned goods and/or cash donations are requested to feed the hungry through Community Cooperative’s Sam’s Community Kitchen & Café). First Presbyterian Church of Fort Myers, 2438 Second St., downtown Fort Myers. 334-2261 or fpcfortmyers.org

Thomas Edison's Birthday Celebration

Come celebrate the birthday of Thomas Edison, the late inventor and part-time Fort Myers resident who died in 1931. The party includes birthday cake, special guests and a music and dance performance from the students of Edison Park Creative and Expressive Arts School. 10-11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7. Free admission. Edison & Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., downtown Fort Myers. 334-7419 or edisonfordwinterestates.org

STEMtastic Day of Discovery

An award-winning showcase of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) exhibits for local children and their families. Visitors can participate in an indoor and outdoor interactive area with STEM-related exhibits, games and presentations. Plus there will be children performing music, theater and acrobatics on the community stage. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10. Free. Caloosa Sound Convention Center at Luminary Hotel & Co., 1375 Monroe St., downtown Fort Myers.

Mutt Strutt

Dogs and dog lovers wear costumes and gather at Centennial Park for a pet parade with a few “doggie floats,” dock jumping, wiener-dog races, food, vendors, a look-alike contest and more. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10. Free. Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., downtown Fort Myers. To participate, email info@edisonfestival.org.

Edison Garden Festival

More than 40 Florida garden vendors display and sell their exotic, tropical and native plants and trees at the annual Edison Garden Festival. You can also buy garden supplies and gift items, such as mulch, trellises, pottery, cut flowers, jewelry and artwork. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-11. Free (tours of the Estate homes, museum and lab not included). Edison & Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., downtown Fort Myers. 334-7419 or edisonfordwinterestates.org

Edison Festival Junior Fun Run

This kids run is open to children in grades 5 and below. Fun run lengths range from 100 meters to 1 mile. Noon to 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11. $5 entry fee. Race starts at First and Lee streets in downtown Fort Myers. runsignup.com/Race/FL/FortMyers/EdisonFestivalofLightJuniorRun

Edison Festival of Light Junior Parade

This smaller version of the Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade features kids and their families smiling and waving from floats, wagons, marching bands and more. More than 100 units participate in what’s billed as Florida’s largest youth parade. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11. Free. The parade starts at First and Monroe streets in downtown Fort Myers.

Junior Coronation & Parade Awards

This awards ceremony for Junior Parade participants takes place right after the Junior Parade. In addition, the Junior King and Queen of the traditional "Royal Court of Edisonia" are crowned. The royal court will join the rest of the court on floats during the Grand Parade. Takes place immediately after the Junior Parade on Sunday, Feb. 11. Free. Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., downtown Fort Myers.

Edison Regional Science and Inventors Fairs

UPDATE: Organizers have decided not to hold an in-person, open-to-the-public viewing for spectators this year. The fairs can still be watched online, however. Thousands of Southwest Florida students compete in two science-based fairs: The Edison Festival of Light Regional Inventors Fair and the Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science & Engineering Fair. This will be the 37th-annual fairs' first in-person event after three years of virtual-only events, but the in-person fairs on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17, aren't open to the public. They can be viewed virtually on Sunday, Feb. 18 (for the inventors fair) and Tuesday, Feb. 27 (for the science and engineering fair). Alico Arena at Florida Gulf Coast University, 12181 FGCU Lake Parkway E., Estero. To see the virtual displays, visit edisonfairs.org/fairs and click on "ALL INVENTOR REGISTRATIONS" (for inventors fair) and "ALL SCIENCE REGISTRATIONS (for the science and engineering fair).

Edison Festival of Light 5K Run

This 3.1-mile race travels through downtown Fort Myers and along Cleveland Avenue. More than 1,400 people take part every year. 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17. Entry fee is $35 in advance ($20 for youth) and $40 for everybody on race day. Coordinated by the Fort Myers Track Club. Race starts and finished on Edwards Drive near Jackson Street in downtown Fort Myers. runsignup.com/Race/FL/FortMyers/EdisonFestivalofLight5K

Crafts on the River

Exhibitors display and sell handmade crafts during this non-juried event near the Caloosahatchee River. The two-day event includes jewelry, photography, paintings, sculptures and more. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-18. Free. Caloosa Sound Amphitheater in Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., downtown Fort Myers.

Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade

The gigantic, two-hour parade is considered to be the biggest night parade in the Southeastern United States. Expect local marching bands, floats, local government and law enforcement officials, clowns and much more. 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17. Free (although various local nonprofits also sell reserved “street seats”). The parade travels from Fort Myers High School to Cleveland Avenue and then north to downtown Fort Myers. Reserved street seats are $15. To order them, visit edisonfestival.org/street-seats.

Grand Parade of Light VIP Tent

Experience the big parade with VIP seating offering a great view of the main event, plus a deejay, food and drinks. 5:30 p.m. to the end of the parade, Saturday, Feb. 17. $60 for adults, $30 for children. The tent is set up at Edwards Drive and Hendry Street.

Classic Car Show

Hundreds of hot rods and classic cars line Edwards Drive for this annual event during Crafts on the River. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18. Free. Edwards Drive in downtown Fort Myers.

Cracker Dinner

This annual event includes door prizes, a silent auction and a buffet dinner. This year's focus will be Fort Myers spring training history. Cracker Dinner is presented by the Southwest Florida Historical Society. 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26. $45. Broadway Palm dinner theater, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Tickets sold at Broadway Palm. 278-4422 or facebook.com/SWFLHS

Charles Runnells is an arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. To reach him, call 239-335-0368 (for tickets to shows, call the venue) or email him at crunnells@gannett.com. Follow or message him on social media: Facebook (facebook.com/charles.runnells.7), X (formerly Twitter) (@charlesrunnells), Threads (@crunnells1) and Instagram (@crunnells1).

Edison Fest 2024: What to know about the big parades, car shows, VIP seats and more (2024)
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