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Thanks for the Spring Festival

March 23, 2009 - Mel Toadvine
A lot of credit is due to the many people who put on the Lehigh Acres Spring Festival and they get little fanfare for their hard work. If you have been to the Festival this year, you will notice several more attractive signs and that there is a new activities tent and local vendors are close to the main stage.

Everything is so clean and neat. It takes several months to work out plans for the Festival which is held every spring just before the snowbirds leave town to go north. In fact, that is how the Festival began back in the mid 1970s when the Lehigh Corp. came up with the idea to put on a gala parade to bid farewell to Lehigh's northern friends and neighbors.

Everyone loved it so much that it continued and now it's a tradition. Not too many years ago, it was held on the land that now occupies the new hotel in town. They called it the old carnival grounds.

When I first came to Lehigh, the Festival was held there for a few years and then when Veterans Park was built, the Festival moved there. There is a small board of directors that run the Festival and without people like William Hoppe, Keith Richert, Ernie Hartman, Danny Stephenson, Andy Reisinger, Vicki Culver, Debbie Jackson, Liz Eilf, Susan Teston, Carey Chase, and so many others I see each year, there would be no Festival.

Someone has to set up the electric wires to the stage, install the sound systems, put up the signs (some are very good this year) and keep an eye on things during the nine days to make sure nothing goes awry. Then when the Festival is over, they have to clean up the park and leave it the way it was before they took it over. It would be impossible to name everyone who helps out.

And from what I hear, some of these people have even paid others to help them set up and take down and never ask a penny for it. The Festival is supported by the businesses in Lehigh Acres and it's no secret this year that it was more difficult for many local business firms to come up with as much money as they did last year or the year before because of the recession we are experiencing.

But they had a little seed money left over from last year and that has gone a long way with the contributions they were able to get this year. The Lehigh Spring Festival is first class entertainment, and clean fun for the entire family.

And don't forget that it is all free. There is a small cost to park, but that's it. And the proceeds from the parking is divided up with the Lehigh Acres Soccer League so they can buy equipment each year for the hundreds of kids that play soccer in Lehigh.

They take care to have the best Midway at the park and this year was no exception. As I have heard it told, it all started 35 years ago when Harry Powell of the Landex Corp. and the late Charlie Matheny and perhaps some other people came up with the idea to celebrate with a Festival. Prior to the Spring Festival, there was a much smaller celebration called a Turkey Shot or something.

When you see these volunteers who put in so much of their time, tell them thanks for a job well done. And if you're interested in joining in to plan next year's Festival or want to help set up or take down, let them know. They are always looking for volunteers who want to help.

Here's hoping to see you Saturday morning at the Lehigh Spring Festival Parade. Don't let the candy hit you, but smile because the hundreds of kids lining Homestead Rd. love it. But watch out for the little ones, that they don't get hurt when they run out to pick up their candy. Remember, there is always another parade vehicle coming up from behind. Enjoy the parade and be safe.


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