- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Here’s the challenge.
Visit nine lighthouses and one lightship within two days. Those who complete the task will earn bragging rights and receive a souvenir that indicates they have “seen the lights.”
The Ninth Maryland Lighthouse Challenge will be held Sept. 21 and 22 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and several Southern Maryland lighthouses are featured in the event.
“You can hit a bunch of lighthouses all at once. It’s a good opportunity,” said Robert Hall of St. Leonard. Hall is president of the Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, a group that maintains one of the lighthouses in the challenge. He explained that normally lighthouses are not all open at the same time as they are during the challenge.
Those who take the challenge this year will visit the Choptank River Lighthouse Replica in Cambridge, Concord Point in Havre de Grace, Cove and Drum Point in Solomons, Fort Washington in Fort Washington Park, Hooper Strait in St. Michael’s, the Lightship Chesapeake at Pier III in Baltimore’s Inner Harbour, Piney Point Lighthouse in Piney Point, Point Lookout Lighthouse in Scotland and Seven Foot Knoll at Pier V in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Participants in the challenge must visit each of the lighthouses on the list, where they will receive a souvenir. Those who receive all the sites on the list will receive a special souvenir.
Along with the lighthouse tours and special merchandise available, Calvert Marine Museum will also be presenting Barbara Lorton, a local author who wrote a children’s book titled “Sidney Seagull — Lighthouses and Buoys of the Chesapeake.” Barbara’s book will be for sale and she will be available for book signings, according to a press release.
Those who want to participate but not complete the whole challenge are welcome to just visit one or two of the lighthouses if they’d prefer. A commemorative bill that features the face of a former lighthouse keeper from that lighthouse will be given to even these more casual visitors at each of the sites in the challenge.
Bonus lighthouses that are not included in the challenge but that are recommended stops along the way to the required lighthouses, are the Blackistone Lighthouse Replica on St. Clement’s Island, Jones Point in Alexandria, Va., and Sandy Point Shoal, near Annapolis. Souvenirs are also given at these bonus stops during the challenge.
Karen Rosage of Pasadena is the event chair of the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge, which is sponsored by the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society. Rosage said the challenge used to be held annually, but now is held just every other year. So the next challenge won’t take place until 2015.
Approximately 1,000 to 1,200 people participate in the challenge in some way every time it is held, Rosage said. Those who actually complete the whole challenge — “We call them the challenge faithful,” she said — are a smaller group. “We’ve had as many as 500 complete the challenge,” she said. The challenge has drawn participants from as many as 27 different states in past years.
Hall said he has participated at Point Lookout as a volunteer every year since the challenge began. He noted that the challenge weekend was the biggest weekend of the year for visitation to Point Lookout Lighthouse. “It can vary, but we get anywhere from 800 to 1,200 visitors that weekend,” Hall said. The extra visitors are a boon to the site’s gift shop, he noted.
Hall said there are the challenge faithful, those who rush in and collect their souvenir and then quickly move on to their next lighthouse. But “we encourage people to climb the tower and ask questions,” he said.
The Piney Point Lighthouse will be showing off its recent renovations.
Hall noted that Eunice Knott, who lived at that lighthouse as a child from 1939 to 1952, will be on hand to tell stories and answer questions at the event.
“We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the lighthouses,” Rosage said. “We’re just lighthouse enthusiasts out to promote the lighthouses.”
Staff writer Sara Newman contributed to this report.