For only the second time ever, Sea Girt Lighthouse will be open to the public for a night climb to the top of the tower Saturday, December 6 between 6 and 9 p.m. That particular night was chosen because there will be a full moon, which will illuminate the lighthouse, beach and ocean affording spectacular vistas.
“On behalf of my fellow trustees, I invite all to join us for this fun community event,” said Bill Mountford, president of the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee. “It makes for a nice family outing and a memorable start to the holiday season.”
The lighthouse will be at its most beautiful. Trustee will have decorated the lighthouse for the season with garland on the porch and tower railings, with wreaths on the front door and the tower’s gallery. Festive lights will shine in every window. In keeping with tradition that goes back decades, members of the Holly Club will have decorated the parlor, community room and stairway banister with seasonal flowers and greenery and a tree will be trimmed in the parlor.
The carefully chosen date, offering the full moon, also holds historic significance, for the climb will comes only four days before the 118th anniversary of the activation of Sea Girt Lighthouse, December 10, 1896. And it is believed that the first keeper, Abraham Wolf, was already in residence December 6, 1896.
“This is a rare opportunity, not to be missed,” said Jude Meehan, SGLCC vice-president who conceived of the night climb. “I encourage all to bring their cameras. There will be great views to be captured.” Last year’s inaugural night climb proved such a success that trustees decided to make this an annual event and are expecting a big turnout.
Trustee Meehan will be easy to recognize, as he will be wearing an exact replica of the navy blue bell cap with the embroidered lighthouse insignia of the U.S. Lighthouse Board that keepers always wore when on duty and Mr. Meehan always wears when on docent duty in the tower.
There will be a table on the lawn with several pairs of binoculars for visitors to use to study the exterior of the lighthouse as it is bathed in moonlight and to study the full moon. After that visitors can proceed into the lighthouse. There will be friendly and knowledgeable docents stationed on the porch and throughout the building to direct people and answer questions.
As space in the lighthouse is limited, the tower will be open for the full three hours to accommodate night climbers on a flow basis. The climb up the tower goes up a spiral staircase and then a ladder into the lantern room, which has enough room for 8 people at a time.
There is much to see in other rooms, which are filled with artifacts, with several recently acquired items, including an 1890s Harden Star Fire Grenade, a glass globe filled with salt water and brine. Every lighthouse would have dozens of fire grenades throughout the building. In the event of a fire, the keeper would throw the grenades at the walls, floorboards or equipment that were afire. The globes would break on impact and spill their contents on the fire, hopefully dousing the flames.
Also newly added to the exhibits are an 1889 navigational chart, one of the earliest to identify Sea Girt Light, a Light-House Board first-aid kit that came from a San Francisco lighthouse, and international signal code flags, which lighthouses used to communicate with passing ships before radio communication. The last two items were donated by Vice-President Meehan.
Refreshments will be offered in the community room. Wandering carolers will fill the air with holiday songs and put everyone in a festive mood.
Trustee and lighthouse historian Bill Dunn will be in the parlor, signing copies of his book Sea Girt Lighthouse: The Community Beacon, the definitive history of the lighthouse richly illustrated with 110 photos. The book, which makes a nice gift, will be available for $21.99, with all proceeds going to the lighthouse.
Admission to the night climb is free, but donations are appreciated and help to fund lighthouse operations.
Photo of Sea Girt Lighthouse decorated for 2013 full moon night climb by Henry Bossett.