By Sarah Grisham
While Huntington may not have the centuries old castles of Europe, its lighthouse possesses a timeless beauty and a historical value that speaks for itself. With its beacon marking safe haven, it played an integral role in days gone by. Having recently celebrated its 107th birthday, the Huntington Lighthouse is actually considered relatively young; however, a little over a century is more than enough time for the degrading effects of the sea and time to make themselves apparent.
Luckily, the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society is here to ensure that the building remains fully functional and beautifully maintained so that it can continue to serve as a town symbol well into the future. On Aug. 7, you can experience the lighthouse yourself by coming to take part in the National Lighthouse Day fundraising event which will include both daytime tours and a special nighttime dinner tour.
From noon until 3:45, everyone can be a kid for an hour as they tour the lighthouse for $15 per person, the usual children’s fee. The boats for these tours will leave every 45 minutes from Goldstar Battalion Beach located at 324 West Shore Road. Make sure to wear sneakers, or another flat and rubber-soled shoe, as flip-flops are very dangerous on the slippery lighthouse and boat, and thus not allowed. If you’re interested in bringing a group of 10 or more to visit, a reservation should be made beforehand.
At 6 p.m. that same day, the celebration will continue with a special dinner tour which, while more expensive at $75 per person, promises to be well worth the money. A buffet of classic Italian cuisine will be supplied by Tutto Pazzo which has coordinated with the lighthouse for over a decade to create evenings with a food selection as memorable as the view. While enjoying your meal, you’ll have the opportunity to watch the Lloyd Harbor Yacht Club’s weekly sunset sailboat race, which ends right by the lighthouse.
As Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society president Pam Setchell puts it, “You get to become intimate with the place and realize how magical it is.”
The tours are filling an important fundraising role as the Lighthouse MusicFest that the Society stages over Labor Day weekend will not be taking place due to communication conflicts with the town. The event had become a staple in the group’s fundraising efforts, and its billing as “the only music festival in the world held on an offshore lighthouse” drew over 1200 boats from across the tri-state area. While Setchell is disappointed at the loss of the event, she remains optimistic, mentioning multiple future lighthouse fundraisers. These included a comedy night featuring Mark DeMayo, who has appeared on both Comedy Central and Showtime, as well as the annual holiday boat parade which will showcase luminously decorated boats circling the harbor. She even dropped a few hints about a special new event for which she has high hopes.
Setchell stressed the importance of continuing the fundraising effort so that the building can be maintained and kept in good repair.
“We’re one of the only towns in the country that has an offshore lighthouse where you can actually go out and see it. People don’t really understand the treasure they have out here in their own backyard…these are our castles.”
This upcoming Wednesday will provide the opportunity to learn more about the town’s past, and secure it for others long into the future.