Residents worry longtime tradition of taping spots for Fort Myers parade could come to an end

Reporter: Sydney Persing
Published: Updated:

It’s a time-honored tradition in Fort Myers that so many of you know and love: taping off a section of sidewalk months in advance to claim a seat for the famous Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade.

Now, it’s sparking controversy.

Right now, there’s no sign of duct tape anywhere on the sidewalk, and it’s this bare sight that sent two women on a mission to make sure their beloved tradition lives on.

Marybeth Johnston and Dawn Steckleberg are great friends. They share a tradition now 10 years in the making.

“This is the huge event; the parade, the fair,” Johnston said. The Edison Festival of Light Grande Parade and Fair that is.

The duo scouts out their favorite spot months in advance, slap down some duct tape and secure their section of sidewalk.

Like so many that honor the tradition, they have the fondest of memories.

“We went past those policemen and we had scissors in our hands. We got a long look that time and I held up the tape and they said, ‘Oh, okay,'” Johnston said laughing.

So when this duo noticed their duct tape was ripped away, their sidewalk there for anyone to steal, “I’m like this is a tradition, this can’t be, what’s going on,” Johnston said.

Panicked, they made some calls and didn’t get any answers until, they say, a Fort Myers city employee told them the city took it away.

“After 40, 50 years of a tradition that’s history with Fort Myers was gone. And no notice,” Steckleberg said.

The pair was devastated.

But today, we called the city and learned they removed a lot of tape—just to pressure wash the sidewalks.

Tape is still allowed! A terrific sigh of relief for these ladies. But without formal notice from the city, they’re warning everyone: “You know, if you’re expecting to have a spot marked and it’s gone you’re gonna have a ton of disappointed people,” Steckleberg said.

Check your tape because if it’s gone, your spot could be too.

Make sure to get to your spot, because if you don’t your normal spot could become someone else’s and that could create some chaos come parade night on Feb. 15.

The tape is still allowed as it has always been. The city doesn’t want to mess with tradition. However, they say the only exception are areas where a restaurant has a sidewalk cafe permit.

For more information on the Edison Festival of Light, click here.

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