By Peter Sloggatt
The popular Lighthouse Music Fest that attracts thousands to Huntington Harbor for a daylong jam over Labor Day weekend has been silenced. At least for this year.
Billed as the world’s only concert performed from the top of a lighthouse, the concert was cancelled by leaders of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society which organizes the annual fundraising event. An announcement posted Tuesday to the group’s website stated they are unable to work with the town officials after strict new rules and communication guidelines were put in place by the town.
Those rules preclude the organizers from communicating directly with personnel from the Harbormaster's and other offices.
“I got an email last week telling me that I can no longer call the Harbormaster's office requesting services, Preservation Society President Pam Setchell said. “They told me I would have to submit requests in writing to Deputy Director Don Spada and they would be taken under advisement.
As producer of the massive concert for the past 11 years, Setchell is used to having a direct line of communication.
“As I’m reading this I’m thinking, ‘I can’t work in real time? I can’t ask the harbormaster a question? I have to go through the Supervisor’s office?’”
That’s too convoluted a way to get things done, according to Setchell.
“A recent lighthouse cleanup event gave us a small glimpse of the challenges of this process” she wrote on the website.
The group was also informed the permit fee would increase from $50 paid in past years to $1,000 this year, but Setchell said that was not a factor.
Town officials, who took a drubbing over the town’s official response to controversy concerning the Sunday Farmer’s Market, responded rapidly with a post to social media. The unsigned post stated the town “wholeheartedly supports the Lighthouse Music Fest, and the Department of Maritime Services has been very responsive” to requests this year.
The post explained the fee increase as an effort to recoup just some of the town’s expenses which it said run over $5,000 for the day.
And while the post stated the Town is “more than willing to work with their event coordinator to proceed...,” Setchell said her group is standing buy its decision.
“This has been a couple of months brewing, and it was a heart-wrenching decision, but it’s too late for this year” she said.