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Lighthouse News of the Week – May 8, 2020

Return of the light in St. Marks Lighthouse (FL)

It had been 20 years since the beacon of the St. Marks Lighthouse shone over the waters of Apalachee Bay. That all changed last Saturday when a lamp behind a replica Fresnel lens was turned on, an event that was months in the making.

St. Marks Light Station in April 2018; U.S. Lighthouse Society photo by Jeff Gales.

“You see the lighthouse as an icon all across Wakulla County and people need something positive right now,”  said St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Ranger Robin Will.

The replacement lens was purchased through a donation but it took approval from the U.S. Coast Guard to act as a private aid to navigation. The LED lamp will shine until August 14 and stay dark until November to not disrupt migrating birds. Then it will be on through the end of February.

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Click the player below to hear an interview with Tom Baird, chairman of the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Lighthouse Committee and fundraising committee chair, on the USLHS podcast “Light Hearted.”

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St. Augustine Lighthouse (FL) reopening on Monday

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, most lighthouses remain closed due to the difficulties of maintaining social distance between people inside the cramped interior of a lighthouse. But the tower and museum at St. Augustine, Florida, are reopening on Monday with certain restrictions.

St, Augustine Lighthouse, USLHS photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

The museum’s site will be open for one-way traffic only with buildings and exhibits remaining closed and capacity limited to 25% of occupancy. Top of the tower is limited to eight people at one time. Visitors are encouraged to wear a mask and gloves if they would like to do so and are asked to practice safe social distancing. The museum team further encourages the use of the handwashing and hand sanitizer stations located throughout the site.

“The museum is eager to welcome our visitors back to the site, and we want to provide the safest environment to do so,” Executive Director Kathy Fleming said. “During the closure, the site has been deep cleaned by our staff as well as many of the building surfaces repainted. We remain focused on our mission of community service and will safeguard our visitors, members, staff and volunteers.”

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Click the player below to hear an interview with Rick Cain, Director of Museum Services, and Jay Smith, Office Manager and Executive and Governance Support Manager for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum on the USLHS podcast “Light Hearted.”

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National Park officials weigh openings of Outer Banks (NC) lighthouses

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt spoke briefly Thursday morning near Bodie Island Lighthouse as part of a tour of federal lands — including Cape Hatteras National Seashore. “We’re moving through this in steps,” he said with the black and white striped lighthouse behind him, explaining the need for people to continue keeping safe social distancing while visiting the parks. It is not certain when the lighthouses will open for climbing.

Reflections of Bodie Island Lighthouse, USLHS photo

The beacons, some of the most popular Outer Banks destinations, may be the toughest to reopen. Last year, 28,000 people climbed the Bodie Island Lighthouse and nearly 100,000 people climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Both are part of the National Park Service.

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Lighthouses glow green for kids

The East Chop Lighthouse, West Chop Lighthouse and Edgartown Lighthouse towers are illuminated green through Saturday in honor of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, according to an announcement from Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

East Chop Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D’Entremont

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Hunstanton Lighthouse (Norfolk, England) illuminated in blue to show appreciation for National Health Service staff

The Old Hunstanton Lighthouse was illuminated in blue on Thursday evening, April 30, to show appreciation for all the NHS staff who are working through the pandemic. It was also a tribute to Chrissie Emerson, a healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, who died from coronavirus. Mrs Emerson was described as a “much-loved wife to Michael and cherished mother and grandmother.”

The Old Lighthouse in Hunstanton was lit up to pay tribute to the NHS 
Credit: ITV News Anglia

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research.

If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to Jeremy at Jeremy@uslhs.org

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