Upcoming Lighthouse Events 2011

Published by admin at 2:25 AM under

Sea Girt Lighthouse is busy with activity throughout the year with tours, programs and community groups who meet regularly at the lighthouse. The 2011 calendar this summer and fall is filled with interesting events open to the public.

Guided Sunday Tours

Guided tours, led by lighthouse docents, are conducted Sundays, 2-4 p.m. from May 1 through November 20, except holiday weekends. Visitors have access to every room, from the keeper’s office, throughout the living quarters and up to the top of the tower.

On display are a Fresnel lens and other artifacts that capture the history of the lighthouse and keepers and later Coast Guardsmen who operated the landmark. Bygone Sea Girt is recalled in rare photos and documents. There are many artifacts from the Morro Castle, the cruise ship that burned offshore in 1934 and prompted a heroic rescue effort.

Note: There are no tours on these holiday Sundays: May 8 (Mother’s Day), May 29 (Memorial Day weekend), June 19 (Father’s Day), July 3 (Sunday before Independence Day) and September 4 (Sunday before Labor Day).

Group Tours

Group tours, especially popular with schools and Scouts, are conducted year-round by prior arrangement.

To arrange a group tour, please submit your request through the website's Contact Us page, or call the lighthouse, 732-974-0514, or write Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, P.O. Box 83, Sea Girt, NJ 08750.

Art Show
July 9

The Manasquan River Group of Artists, which meets weekly at the lighthouse for art classes and to paint and share techniques, display their creations at their annual summer art show and sale on the lighthouse north lawn. The popular show, which was first held in the mid-1980s, is one of the oldest recurring events at the lighthouse. Some 15-20 artists exhibit their creations in watercolors, pastels, oils, ink and pencil as well as prints. Many of the images capture seascapes, beach scenes, beach wildflowers, shore homes, and local landmarks, including the lighthouse and area pavilions and boardwalks. The show runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 9. The rain date is Sunday, July 10.


International Lighthouse / Lightship Weekend
August 20

Amateur radio operators – hams – broadcast from the porch of Sea Girt Lighthouse on Saturday, August 20, as part of the 18th Annual International Lighthouse / Lightship Weekend.

Hams at some 400 other lighthouses in 50 countries transmit CQs (“calling any station”) signals by microphone or using keys to tap Morse code to listening amateurs around the world. The lighthouse hams also spend time listening for incoming CQs and then respond.

Working in pairs, one ham works the transceiver, while the other records the details of each contact completed: call letters, radio operator’s name, location, message. A few dozen hams from the Neptune Amateur Radio Club and the local chapter of the North American DX Association take turns transmitting from two stations set up for the event at Sea Girt Lighthouse.

In years past, hams broadcasting from Sea Girt, ranging in age from pre-teens to retirees, have reached operators in more than 30 states, a few dozen lighthouses and as far away as Brazil and Slovenia and Russia. Communications is never a problem as hams use internationally recognized code words, letters and numbers, such as CQ (calling any station), QRZ (who is calling?),QSL (I copy, I understand), 73 (best regards), SK (end of transmission), to bridge any language barrier.

Last year, the operators at Sea Girt succeeded in reaching hams at five other lighthouses as well as event participants in more than a dozen states and three foreign countries. In the final hour of the event, one of the ham at Sea Girt put aside his microphone and plugged in his key and started to tap out More code, which travels farther than voice transmissions.

His dots and dashes skipped across the Atlantic Ocean and over the Ural Mountains, eliciting a response from an amateur operator in Russia. A few minutes later, the local ham was conversing in Morse with a second operator who heard his CQ, also in Russia.

The event, which originated in Scotland, aims to spotlight the historic importance of lighthouses, promote amateur radio and foster international understanding. Visitors are welcome to meet the local hams, talk to them about the fun of amateur radio, watch them in action and eavesdrop on their conversations. Broadcasting begins at 9 a.m.

Lighthouse Challenge
October 15-16

The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16. The challenge is to visit 11 New Jersey lighthouses, including Sea Girt. Also participating are two museums with lighthouse artifacts and a lifesaving station.

In addition to Sea Girt, the other Challenge lighthouses are: Absecon, Barnegat, Cape May, East Point, Finns Point, Hereford Inlet, Navesink/Twin Lights and Sandy Hook, Tinicum and Tuckerton. Also open for visitors is the Tatham Life-Saving Station in Stone Harbor.

Museums in Barnegat and Cape May are bonus stops. The two museums, as well as Sea Girt Lighthouse and a few other lighthouses have rare Fresnel lens on display.

Participants have access to every room in Sea Girt Lighthouse – the keeper’s office, the living quarters, and up the spiral staircase to the lantern room at the very top of the tower.

In the 2008 Challenge, Sea Girt Lighthouse had the most visitors of any participating lighthouse – 2,615 people. They came from 30 states, Canada, England, Germany and Italy.

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Descendants of Longest-Serving Keeper Visit Lighthouse As Part of Scout Tour

Published by admin at 8:48 AM under

A steady stream of Scouts and school groups from shore communities and even more distant towns visit Sea Girt Lighthouse on group tours, which are conducted year-round by prior arrangement. The youngsters often come as part of a history project.

CUB_SCOUTS_SGL_PARLORA recent tour by nine Cub Scouts from a neighboring town offered a lesson in living history. Among the boys was one who was returning to his ancestral home. Cub Scout Charles Harrison Height is the great, great grandson of William Henry Harrison Lake, Sea Girt’s longest-serving keeper.

Mr. Lake, nicknamed “Pappy” and also known to many as “Bill the Lighthouse Man,” served 14 years at Sea Girt from 1917-31 – twice as long as his predecessors. He won numerous Efficiency Stars from the U.S. Lighthouse Service for his outstanding operation of the lighthouse. After Pappy’s retirement, he worked in real estate and for awhile ran the old boardwalk pavilion at Chicago beach.

“It was amazing that my great, great grandfather was so cool,” said seven-year-old Charlie with pride.

Taking the tour that day were three generations of descendants of keeper Lake. Charlie was joined by his mother, Lori Lake Height, and her father and Charlie’s grandfather, Bill Lake, who was named for “Bill the Lighthouse Man.” The lighthouse represents an important and proud part of their family history as well as shore and maritime history.

Earning Credit Toward Merit Badge

“By visiting Sea Girt Lighthouse, the scouts are completing a part of the Know Your Home and Community requirement,” noted Den Leader Christine Testa. Their visit will also earn them needed credit toward achieving their Wolf badge.

“I picked Sea Girt Lighthouse to fulfill these requirements because of the location – what a gem to have in our backyard,” Mrs. Testa explained. “I am glad I picked Sea Girt Lighthouse to find out the great history of the family of one of my Scouts.”

In keeping with the Scout motto semper paratus, the Cub Scouts, ages 7 and 8, came prepared. They asked good questions and made perceptive comments on what they saw, heard and learned. To get the boys ready, Mrs. Testa had encouraged them to go to the lighthouse website ( before the actual visit.

Erected in 1896, Sea Girt Lighthouse guided mariners safely in their voyages for more than half a century. Decommissioned after World War II, the lighthouse was sold in 1956 by the federal government to the Borough of Sea Girt, which used it for two decades as the children’s library and recreation center. Since 1981, the lighthouse has been maintained and operated by the all-volunteer Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee.

Lighthouse History, Family History

The boys and their chaperones were escorted by a lighthouse trustee from the keeper’s office, through the living quarters and finally up to the very top of the tower.CHARLIE_BILL_LORI_HOLD_PAPPY_PIX

In the parlor on the mantle were framed photos of some of the keeper families who called the lighthouse home, including Pappy Lake, wife Edith, and their son, Elvin.

Edith Lake was a successful businesswoman who had her own real estate office in town, served on the Borough Council and helped found the Sea Girt Women’s Club, which now meets regularly at the lighthouse. Elvin, known to all as “Toots,” grew up to be one of the hero lifeguards in the 1934 Morro Castle rescue.

Of special interest to Charlie and his family was the brass oil lantern that keeper Lake used to find his way throughout the lighthouse at night in the days before the lighthouse was electrified in 1932.

“It surprised me that my family lived in the lighthouse with no TV or lights,” Charlie admitted.

Cool Climb

The Cubs Scouts and adults got the chance to repeat the very climb Pappy Lake and all the other keepers, including Harriet Yates in 1910, made several times a day to keep the light burning bright by refueling the tower lamp, trimming the wick and cleaning the Fresnel lens.

“It was really cool climbing the stairs,” said Charlie. “I loved it.” From the keeper’s office to the very top is 42 steps. The last nine steps are a nearly vertical climb up a wrought-iron ladder through a trap door that opens to the octagonal lantern room where the view is spectacular.

Charlie said he felt “good being in the very place my family lived.” He added: “I would like to live there when I grow up.” In fact, he’d like to be a lighthouse keeper, just like Pappy.

Lighthouse Collection

Charlie, his mother and grandfather are continuing an honored tradition at Sea Girt Lighthouse of descendants of keepers returning to the lighthouse to share what they know about their forbearers.

Descendants of three other keepers – Abram Yates (1903-10), Harriet Yates (June-July 1910) and George Thomas (1931-1940) – have also visited the lighthouse as have several Coast Guardsmen stationed at Sea Girt during and after World War II.

Much of what is known about the keepers – and mentioned during the tours – has come from descendants who provide invaluable historical details and often photos and artifacts.

CHARLIE_HOLDS_PAPPY_LANTERNThe photos of Pappy, Edith and Toots Lake had been donated by various members of the Lake family over the years. Pappy’s lantern was donated to the lighthouse collection by Bill Mountford and his family. Bill, a lighthouse trustee, is the great-grandson of Pappy Lake, the grandson of Toots Lake, and a cousin of Mrs. Height.

Junior Lighthouse Members

At the conclusion of their tour, the Cub Scouts gathered in the parlor. Each Scout was presented a Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee Junior Member card in recognition of the visit and having climbed up the tower.

In addition to maintaining the building and grounds, the Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee preserves the lighthouse history through guided tours, programs, special events, publications and the website.

The boys were encouraged to return to Sea Girt Lighthouse with their families and friends. Visitors, new members and tour guides are always welcome.

Arranging Group Tours

Group tours, like the one the Cub Scouts took, can be arranged by calling the lighthouse at 732-974-0514 or submitting a written request from the Contact Us page at the lighthouse website (

Guided Sunday tours run May 1 through the Sunday before Thanksgiving, except for holiday weekends.

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