Royal Pages of the Edison Pageant of Light holding Thomas Alva Edison busts. Photo: Robert Fulton
Edison Pageant of Light
Each February since 1938, Fort Myers, winter home
of Thomas and Mina Edison, has commemorated the life and
accomplishments of this remarkable man in its Edison Pageant of
In 1887, Edison built his first laboratory on his
Fort Myers estate, located on the banks of the Caloosahatchee
River, and imported a steam engine and dynamo, giving Fort Myers
pioneer citizens their first taste of incandescent light. Edison
had first moved to Ft. Myers, his "adoptive home," as he called it
for health reasons; he attributed his "rapidly returned health" to
Ft. Myers'3 perfect air, "constant succession of blue skies and
warm sunshine." As Edison grew older, his birthday party became a
Ft. Myers event, bringing many notables to the area, including
Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford, who purchased property next door
to Edison so he might enjoy working vacations with his friend.
After Edison died in 1931, an annual memorial service was held for
seven ensuing years on his birthday.
In 1938, Ronald Halgrim, a personal friend of the
great inventor and editor of the
Fort Myers Press,
suggested that more elaborate tribute might be in order, and
spearheaded the effort to make the Edison Pageant an annual event.
At Halgrim's urging, the Fort Myers Women's Community Club joined
the Junior Chamber of Commerce in sponsoring a three-day pageant to
honor Edison. It was held in conjunction with the memorial service
and the Southwest Florida Fair.
The first Edison Pageant was a three-day affair held
on February 11-13, 1938, providing entertainment for locals and for
Florida's many winter visitors. The Royal Pageant culminated with
the crowning of a king and queen of the mythical realm of Edisonia;
this tradition has survived to this day and is a cornerstone of
today's Edison Pageant of Light. Additional activities include the
Edison Birthday Party, the annual memorial service, and a Grand
Parade with many bands and floats, a Baby Parade, fireworks,
Stadium Show, a juried flower show, arts and crafts show, golf and
tennis tournaments, professional square dancing and musical
performances. A Coronation Ball is held in the best traditions of
the realm of Edisonia.
Except for a five-year hiatus during World War II,
the Edison Pageant of Light has been held faithfully every year in
Ft. Myers. It is a mystical, mythical event that has been staged
with love, appreciation, and good humor for six decades: a fitting
tribute to a man who gave the world the incandescent light,
phonograph, motion picture camera, and 1000 other inventions, one
of the greatest inventors of the modern era.
The project is documented by an exhaustively
researched 38-page essay with endnotes and bibliography; twenty 8 x
10 photographs; and a video entitled "Edison Pageant of Light
Originally submitted by: Connie Mack,Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.