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El-Gendy retains honorary mayor title as festival ends

By Staff | Mar 27, 2013

Ahmed El-Gendy

Ahmed El-Gendy retained his title of honorary mayor of Lehigh Acres prior to the end of the nine-day Lehigh Acres Spring Festival. He first won the title a year ago when he raised the money for the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce and his favorite charity.

This year, he raised $5,625 with half going to the chamber and the other half going to the Chest Institute, his favorite charity. The race for an honorary mayor is sponsored by the chamber as a fundraiser.

The other contender was Denise McLothlin, a nurse practioner with the Lehigh Medical Group, which includes Lehigh Regional Medical Center. She is associated with Dr. Michael Tucker’s office. She raised $5,021 and her favorite charity is Relay for Life.

Inke Baker, interim president and CEO of the Lehigh chamber, made the announcement Friday shortly after 7 p.m. on main stage at the festival, in between final Festival Idol competitions.

“This year, the two candidates running for honorary mayor have raised more than $10,000,” Baker told the crowd. Only she knew who the winner was.

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN The Spring Festival Royalty float carried pageant winners.

The $10,000 figure is one of the largest ever to select an honorary mayor.

“Our new honorary mayor is Ahmed El-Gendy, who has been honorary mayor over the past year,” Baker said.

She presented checks back to them to give to their favorite charities. The other half is for the chamber which among other things, hands out scholarships and works with local businesses with providing educational fairs and other events.

“As honorary mayor, El-Gendy will ride in an open convertible in the parade Saturday,” Baker said. He is associated with his father, Dr. Alaa El-Gendy who operates Florida Lung & Sleep Associates.

The nine-day festival, filled with games, entertainment a midway and plenty of food ended this past Saturday at Veterans Park.

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN The Bayshore Elementary Cloggers.

Throngs of visitors came to the park each night of the event. The festival was marred one night when a midway ride broke down on Tuesday night and injured five riders.

The ride did not reopen and Allan Harrison, chief of the state’s Fair Rides Inspection Bureau, said it would be investigated. The ride was provided by Modern Midways, a firm with headquarters in Illinois and Miami. Only one other incident involving a ride breaking down and causing harm was in 2006. The firm has provided midway rides for several years.

The festival this year was in dedicated to the memory of Danny Stephenson who died last year. His widow, Judy Stephenson was selected as grand marshal of the parade Saturday. She has been active in the festival as was her husband, who was ahead of the committee that put on the festival and also emceed many events of the festival.

Chosen this year as has been the custom, Martha Thrower was chosen by the chamber as the a representative of the Pioneer Family of the year. She also was honored by riding in the Saturday parade. The person selected represents an early family

The parade, which began at 11 a.m. Saturday, was not as long as in previous years, but it ran for about an hour.

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN Several members of the Lehigh Senior High School marching band.

Debbie Jackson, a member of the Spring Festival Committee, said more people were spending more money this year at the festival than last, hinting that the economy may be changing for the better.

“We had a fantastic crowd for the Nowhere Band and a beautiful night to sit outside and listen to them. They are really incredible! The Nowhere Band knew Danny Stephenson and dedicated a special Beatles song to him – “In My Life.”

“I also thought that the tribute to Danny Stephenson was done really well. We had a drop-down screen with pictures of Danny throughout the many years that he performed in Lehigh Acres. In the background they played music from Danny’s CD which was so appropriate.

“I can tell you that the hot dogs were flying out of my booth all day Saturday so Lehigh Community Services will benefit well from the proceeds,” she said

Andy Reisinger, an employee of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, has been chairman of the parade for years and now is also the committee’s chairman. The judges’ stand was in front of SunTrust Bank on Homestead Rd. Vicki Culver, emceed each entry as it passed before the judges.

PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN The parade marshal was Judy Stephenson.

Absent this year, maybe because it is not an election year, were no members of the Lee County Commission. However, churches, businesses and local clubs marched and many rode on floats down Homestead Rd. For the remainder of the day, the park was filled with entertainment, the midway rides and plenty of food and games.

Winners were selected throughout the festival for different competitions.

Cheryl Dutka listed winners of the various competitions at the beginning of the Lehigh Spring Festival. They include the animals’ names, but not the owners’ names in the annual Pet Show:

Saturday, March 16

Pet Show

– Best of show: Sasha

Small Dog

– First place: Sadie

– Second place: Buster

– Third place: Sophia

Medium Dogs

– First place: Hercules

– Second place: Liz

Large Dog

– First place: Mary J

– Second place: Rambo

Miscellaneous Pets

– First place: Sasha

– Second place: Karma

– Third place: Knomio

The following are winners in other competitions as reported by Cheryl Dutka:

BBQ Cook Off

– First place: Scott and Mike, Chicken and Ribs

Monday, March 18


– First place: Betty Gould

– Second place: Betty Gould


– First place: Sandy Wheeler

– Second place: Diane Turrill


– First place: Judy Roach

– Second place: Judy Roach


– First Place: Dan Lipke

– Second Place: Dave Oldeack


– First place: Randy

– Second place: Randy


– First place: Amy Clark


– First place: Pat Franson

– Second place: Pat Franson

– Third place: Cleo Castro


– First place: Cleo Castro

– Second place: Alice Nicholas

Best of show

– First place: Betty Gould

– Second place: Randy

– Third place: Dan Lipke

Tuesday, March 19

Baking Contest

– Best of show: Amanda Goff, Orange Pineapple Cupcakes


– First place: Amanda Goff, Orange Pineapple Cupcakes

– Second place: Amy Clark, German Chocolate Cupcakes


– First place: Megan Neugebauer, Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies


– First place: Kathy Hicks, Mom’s Key Lime Cheesecake

– Second place: Megan Neugebauer, Carmel Cake

– Third place: Phyllis Plelps, Sunshine Cake


– First place: Phyllis Phelps, Strawberry Pie

– Second place: Jasmine Spencer, Key Lime Pie

Wednesday, March 20


– Best of show: Linda Carter, Wonder Woman Special

– First place: John Palmer, Bourbon and Beer

– Second place: Shannon Tejedo, Chili

– Third place: Linda Carter, Wonder Woman Special

Thursday, March 21


– Best of show: Patty Boyd


– Best of show: Richard Essert


– Best of show: Richard Essert

Judy Stephenson provided the names of the winners in the various pageant contests. They included:


– Second runner-up: Cameron Van Note

– First runner-up: Alaina Myers

– Winner: Gemma-Lee Wellman


– Second runner-up: Graci Jones

– First runner-up: Jakob Kitley

– Winner: Rhylie Dawn Mercurio


– Winner: Nicholas Tregunno


– First runner-up: Kenzy McKinney

– Winner: Kaylyn Herrell

Prince/Princess costume

– Winner: Kaylyn Herrell

Prince/Princess talent

– Winner: Kaylyn Herrell

Junior Miss

– Talent winner: Samantha Brister

– Costume winner: Kolby McKinney

– Second runner-up: Cassandra Browning

– First runner-up: Samantha Brister

– Winner: Kolby McKinney


– Talent winner: Ravyn Clark

– Costume winner: Ravyn Clark

– First runner-up: Ravyn Clark

– Winner: Sara Perez

Junior Miss/Queen Miss

– Congeniality: Cassandra Browning

Parade chairman Andy Reisinger provided the list of the winners of the Spring Festival Grand Parade. They include:

– Most Unique and Creative Award: Bayshore Elementary School Cloggers

– Most Orignal Decor and Design Award: Lee County 4-H

– Best Implementation of Theme Award: Lehigh Acres Senior Citizen Center

– Best Costumes Award: Lehigh Acres Football Association

– Best Crowd Pleaser Award: East Lee County High School Marching Band

– Most Outstanding Award: Bayshore Elementary School Cloggers