We believe that the holidays are a time to give back to the community we love so dearly. Cathy and two others from our offices volunteered their time to create a special event for the Dunbar community in Fort Myers. Richard Plummer, and Gordon Ochoa were there helping make the event a huge success. Read the article below from Melissa Montoya at the News Press (December, 2015.)
The mayor began the countdown.
“Five,” Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said.
The crowd chimed in.
“Four, three, two, one.”
And then, the electrical line buried into the ground by city workers functioned correctly, lighting Dunbar’s first public Christmas tree.
The crowd gathered at Roberto Clemente Park gasped in fascination and applauded as the 4,000 light bulbs streamed across the 35-foot fir tree shown brightly against the darkening sky.
“I never thought in a million years they would put a Christmas tree in Dunbar,” Gregory Ford said about the city of Fort Myers. “It’s very inspiring to have something like this, to have something here.”
The tree was paid for by a Community Agency Support Program grant that gave the park $53,000 for improvements. Some of that was used to route electricity to the park that would light the tree, said Saeed Kazemi, interim city manager.
“It’s important because we have a beautiful park and we wanted to have a Christmas tree lit in that area,” Kazemi said. “The message is we are one city and being one city, we just want to extend our Christmas spirit.”
About 1,000 people attended the fifth annual Holiday in the Park Saturday, said Jarrett Eady, chairman for the Lee County Black History Society, which hosts the day’s festivities. The society runs the Williams Academy Black History Museum located at the park and dedicated to historic black figures in Fort Myers. The park is located alongMartin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a busy thoroughfare that many people commute on, Eady said.
“It’s a symbol to show that the holiday spirit is alive in spite of the recent violence,” Eady said.
Violence has plagued the community of Fort Myers in recent months, leaving behind bodies and injuries. While the atmosphere was festive, many people commented on how nice it was to share an evening together of laughter and joy without something terrible happening. Fort Myers police officers, who provided the bounce houses, interacted with children. During one instance, a young boy asked the officer to protect him from a drone that recorded the event from the air.
“This is something that is good,” said Fort Myers police Capt. Jim Mulligan.
Families watched tiny dancers perform, listened to choirs sing, but it was the tree-lighting that had 9-year-old Te’Kara Lynom the most excited.
“It’s pretty,” Te’Kara said. “I like the feeling of Christmas.”