By Peter R. Halas
On Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, 2014, Sea Girt Lighthouse will be welcoming a thousand or more lighthouse lovers as a key stop in the 15th annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey. The lighthouse will be open from 8 AM to 6 PM both days.
Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, said, “The Lighthouse Challenge is a great opportunity to show the Sea Girt Lighthouse to over a thousand enthusiastic people in just one weekend.
“The Challenge is an excellent family activity, offering the perfect combination of entertainment and historical education. You don’t have to be a lighthouse expert to appreciate the Challenge, simply enjoy the adventure the weekend offers.”
Trustees and docents will be in each room to proudly discuss the history of Sea Girt Lighthouse and the meaning of the historical photographs and authentic lighthouse pieces, especially the Frensel lens on display. Visitors will have full access to the lighthouse, from the keeper’s office, throughout the living quarters, and up to the lantern room at the top of the tower.
Challenge participants will attempt to visit 11 lighthouses in New Jersey over the weekend in addition to one museum and two life-saving stations for total of 14 stops, collecting a stamp at each stop. When the visitors have collected a stamp from each lighthouse they will have covered about 430 miles and will receive a certificate of completion.
In previous years, visitors came from all over New Jersey, many states and Canada, and as far away as Europe. Interest in the history of lighthouses and their importance commercially and militarily, is strong and growing in the United States and in other countries. A strong turnout of locals, and people from many states and aboard is anticipated.
Sea Girt Lighthouse, located at Ocean Avenue and Beacon Boulevard, flashed its first light on December 10, 1896. The light at this location eliminated the blind spot along the treacherous near-shore waters between the Twin Lights Lighthouse in Navesink and the Barnegat Lighthouse. The lighthouse was important for the development of radio navigation in the 1920s and served as a Coast Guard station with the light extinguished in World War II.
Bill Dunn, lighthouse historian and author of the new and definitive history of Sea Girt Lighthouse, which will be available for purchase during the challenge, explained, “The Lighthouse Challenge is something the volunteers at Sea Girt Lighthouse look forward to. We get to meet other lighthouse enthusiasts and have the opportunity to show them our favorite lighthouse and her extensive collection of artifacts.”
Lighthouse vice president Jude Meehan will again provide for display U.S. Navy signal flags and related military equipment.
Sea Girt Lighthouse trustees and volunteers invite you to take the Challenge, join the fun, visit Sea Girt Lighthouse and the other lighthouses the weekend of October 18 and 19. Directions and hours of operation are listed at www.lighthousechallengeNJ.org.