Coast Guard hosts 5th annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day

1st Coast Guard District News
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Stanton

PORTLAND, Maine – The U.S. Coast Guard, the State of Maine and the American Lighthouse Foundation hosted the 5th annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day on Saturday.

The partnership with the Coast Guard, State of Maine and American Lighthouse Foundation is intended to increase awareness of Maine’s maritime heritage and the rich history of its lighthouses and lighthouse keepers.

Black cast-iron gates opened to a series of green rolling hills and a sea of people pouring in to a historic beacon of light that rests on the shoals of the Maine coast.

The beacon of light is the Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and the event is the 5th annual Maine Lighthouse Day. Portland Head Lighthouse was one of 22 lighthouses open to the public for guided and self-guided tours.

Families from all over the country gather to Maine's coast for the 5th annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day, Sept. 14, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Stanton.)

Families from all over the country gather to Maine’s coast for the 5th annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day, Sept. 14, 2013. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Stanton.

“When people think Coast Guard they don’t typically think Aids To Navigation (ATON) but this is definitely one instance where ATON is in the spot light,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Dunphy, an Electronics Technician stationed at Coast Guard Aids To Navigation Team Portland. “I am happy that the Coast Guard and partnership agencies put this event on giving people the chance to experience these lighthouses.”

Hundreds of people visited lighthouses along the Maine coast making this event the largest of its kind in the nation. The U.S. Coast Guard, in partnership with the American Lighthouse Foundation and the Maine Office of Tourism, coordinates the event every year.

“People have been in line waiting as early as two hours before we handed out tickets,” said Fireman Apprentice Katie Blackburn, a Fireman Apprentice stationed at the Aids To Navigation Team in Portland, Maine. “ I’ve seen some people cry at the top because they finally got to see it.”

The light station sits at the entrance of the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor in Fort Williams Park. The park has a vast amount of history and is a popular recreational park in Maine.

“Portland Head lighthouse is pretty breathtaking, it’s definitely one of the most popular lighthouses and one of the most photographed,” said Dunphy.

The event is intended to increase awareness of Maine’s maritime heritage and the rich history of its lighthouses and lighthouse keepers.

“Open Lighthouse Day offers a rare opportunity for the public to peek inside Maine’s great coastal history,” said Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Morris, the Open Lighthouse Day project officer at Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “Opportunities like this are important for current generations to build an interest in history that will lead to the future preservation of these landmarks.”

Click the photo for more from the event.

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