Sea Girt Lighthouse was the center of attention and cause for celebration at the 33rd
annual Signing of the Lease Party, attracting friends to the evening lawn party August 3. Guests gathered for A Nautical Night under a spacious tent decorated with large, colorful authentic Navy signal flags from World War II while soft sea shanty music played in the background setting the mood.
The party was hosted by the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee. President Virginia Zientek and other trustees greeted guests at the entrance. “This is a gathering of friends of the lighthouse,” noted Mrs. Zientek. “It’s an evening for all of us to celebrate our beloved treasure and a chance to recommit ourselves to the challenge ahead to preserve not only the building but its rich history.”
The air was filled with lively conversation and laughter and the joyous sounds of old friends offering heartfelt greetings, including those stopping at the table where trustee emeritus Kathryn Matthews held court. The weather, which had been threatening earlier in the day with periodic rain, cooperated with a sunny evening, pleasant temperatures and a gentle breeze.
The party commemorates the founding of the Lighthouse Committee in 1981 and its signing the lease with the Borough whereby the committee assumed full responsibility for preservation and operation of the landmark and the preservation of its history. The evening’s Nautical Night theme, and its decorations, recalled Sea Girt’s long service as an aid to navigation and then during World War II as a Coast Guard watch tower and command post for beach patrols.
Representing the Coast Guard at the party was Petty Officer Brad Zientek, son of the lighthouse president and Dr. Mark Zientek. Many guests thanked Petty Officer Zientek for his service with the respect and appreciation due our service personnel.
“The turnout was gratifying and close to a sell out,” said Mrs. Zientek. The proceeds of this singular supporting event go to maintenance and operations of the 117-year-old building, which is in use some 200 days a year by community groups and for tours conducted spring through fall by the all-volunteer citizens committee.
The evening was once again catered by Carol Ann McLaughlin, who catered the very first Signing of the Lease Party in 1981 and most everyone since. Her servers offered a selection of delicious hors d’oeuvres and with a grand finale of filet on bread, which could have been a dinner in itself. There were three open bars where refreshments were served.
Judging by the lively conversation and the buoyant mood of the partygoers, all seemed to enjoy themselves. Numerous guests thanked trustees for their efforts. And favorable comments came in follow-up emails. One member wrote: “What a wonderful party! Delightful evening, delicious food and excellent company!”
The unique and meaningful Navy signal flags were on loan from the collection of Jude Meehan, a lighthouse trustee who with his sons collects maritime, Navy and Coast Guard artifacts. Also from their collection and drawing attention of guests were a Coast Guard field kitchen and a troop transport parked on Beacon Boulevard. Julian Meehan, Jude’s 9-year-old son, was stationed there in a Coast Guard work shirt and fatigue cap, to answer questions of those who stopped for a closer look.
Selling briskly at the party were prints of the 2013 Sea Girt Lighthouse poster, photographed and designed by trustee Robert Varcoe. This year’s poster and those from previous years can be purchased for $15 at the lighthouse during Sunday tours. They can also be gotten by mail by sending a check for $21 for purchase, handling and postage to the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, P.O. Box 83, Sea Girt, NJ 08750.
Bill Mountford, SGLCC vice president, chaired the event, trustee Lauren Behre was co-chair. It was a team effort with all 18 trustees taking on assigned duties, which began months ago and continued through party day for setup and the next day for knock down. And it was back to the normal routine by Sunday, with guided tours conducted that afternoon.
Mrs. Zientek offered her appreciation to all. “Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make the event a success, who work year round on all the details involved in preserving the lighthouse and to all who cherish the value of the lighthouse to history and to our community and support it so generously.”