New Discovery Leads to Bigger Edison 164th Birthday Celebration on February 11 at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates
February 7, 2011
On February 11, 1929, Thomas and Mina Edison, Henry and Clara Ford, Harvey and Idabelle Firestone, and President-Elect Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou and son Herbert Jr., rode through the streets of Fort Myers in honor of the world-famous inventor’s 82nd birthday. A motorcade of six cars carrying the famous vistors, accompanied by the Secret Service and mounted and motorcycled police, were included in the parade. The guests rode from the historic Edison Park neighborhood through downtown Fort Myers and down McGregor Boulevard to Seminole Lodge, Edison’s Florida estate.
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both winter residents of Southwest Florida, enjoyed tremendous international popularity due to their inventions, industries, and achievements. The arrival of President-Elect Hoover was an incredible event for a town of less than 10,000 people. More than 20,000 residents from Lee County and surrounding areas watched the motorcade from the streets and rooftops of Fort Myers. The Fort Myers Press reported, “A warm sun shone brightly as the distinguished cavalcade moved through the streets on the 876th consecutive day of sunshine in Fort Myers.”
Mrs. Frank Alderman stepped off the porch of her First Street home in historic Dean Park to hand Mrs. Hoover a bouquet of roses picked from Mrs. Alderman’s garden.
After the parade, the guests enjoyed a private lunch at Seminole Lodge, watched students from Edison Park School perform a dance, and then relayed a nationwide radio broadcast from the garden of the inventor’s Florida retreat. During the broadcast Edison remarked, “I wish I could invite all of you to have some birthday cake, but unfortunately we can’t eat by radio – just yet. I’ll have to work on that problem.”
President –Elect Hoover and his wife spent the night on their yacht the Saunterer, anchored between Fort Myers and Punta Rassa in the Caloosahatchee River. Herbert Hoover, Jr. was an honored guest at Seminole Lodge.
This year the festivities on Edison’s 164th birthday on February 11th at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates include:
• 10 AM Birthday Celebration begins with performance by Edison Park School of the Creative and Expressive Arts students and birthday cake. The event is free to the public and is sponsored by the Estates and Edison Pageant of Light.
• 11 AM Motorcade with Mr. Edison and President Hoover departing the Edison Estate to downtown Fort Myers.
• 5:30 PM- 8 PM the Estates Museum will be open to the public with free admission. The Estates Inventors Museum has an impressive collection of inventions and artifacts, special exhibits, archives and video documentaries on the lives of the famous inventors. Invention demonstrations and informal tours will be presented by the Edison “muckers.” The programs are designed for families with children and will be offered throughout the evening.
• During the month of February selected Edison items and books will be 10% off in the Museum Store.
Edison’s birthday celebration is a sanctioned event of the Edison Festival of Light.
The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Estates is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.efwefla.org.