Lighthouse Transfer a Huge Success!
The U.S. Coast Guard transferred ownership of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse to the National Park Service on Saturday, June 14, 2003. That also was the day the Cape Lookout Lighthouse U.S. Postal stamp was unveiled. Also, the lighthouse was open for public climbing June 14 and 15 for the first time in her history. There were approximately 5,000 people and hundreds of boats at the event. The day's activities were considered a success because of the great number of visitors who bought stamp memorabilia, attended the ceremony, and climbed the tower.
U.S. Congressman Walter B. Jones, National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, Deputy Regional National Park Service Director Pat Hooks, and other government officials attended the day's activities. At 9:00 a.m., the stamp was unveiled, one day after its national debut at the Tybee Island Lighthouse. That ceremony was held on Harkers Island at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum. U.S. Postal officials traveled on a replica mailboat from Shell Point to the Cape to open a temporary Post Office, the first at Cape Lookout since 1915. Stamps, cachets, and other stamp products were sold until the Post Office closed on June 21.
The transfer ceremony was at 2:00 p.m. at the Lighthouse. Visitors enjoyed the 2nd Fixed Wing Marine Band from Cherry Point, the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard presentation, Bruce Naegelen's songs, and Rodney Kemp and Sonny Williamson's "fish house liars" stories. The official military transfer was dignified and moving. Park Superintendent Bob Vogel promised that the Lighthouse would be kept and preserved as a cherished treasure of the Outer Banks. Margaret Gillikin; park volunteer, Harkers Island native, and life-long fan of the Lighthouse; was given one of the last light bulbs to illuminate the Lighthouse prior to her transfer.
Because of the fragile condition of the Lighthouse, the number of persons to climb her was restricted. Approximately 400 tickets were given at 9:00 a.m. on June 14 for climbing that day. Lighthouse folks had been in line since 6:00! Because of the large number, rain checks were given for June 15. Some folks were disappointed, but most understood the necessity of limiting the number of people who were privileged to climb the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
The weather was great, a good breeze was blowing, folks were smiling, and The Diamond Lady stood tall and proud in the glow of all the admiration that she received that wonderful weekend.
Friends of Cape Lookout National Seashore
A new support group, Friends of Cape Lookout National Seashore, was announced at the Lighthouse transfer ceremony at Cape Lookout on June 14. The group will support the entire national park, from Ocracoke Inlet and Portsmouth Village in the North to Beaufort Inlet and the Shackleford horses in the South. Of course, the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is included as the primary symbol of the park. The first project of this new group probably will be working toward the restoration of the Lighthouse so that she can be opened to the public. The limited number of lighthouse climbers on June 14 and 14 (approximately 440) and the long line of disappointed folks who did not get to climb during the two days that the Lighthouse has ever been officially open in her 144 years indicate the overwhelming public desire to have her open on a regular basis.
The purpose of the Friends is to support Cape Lookout National Seashore and the park's mission to preserve and protect cultural and natural resources for this and future generations.
A new Board of Directors will decide on specific projects and activities. Until then, the first (charter) members can know that they are supporting a worthy cause. There are four categories of membership: Member - $15; Family - $25; Assistant Lighthouse Keeper - $50; and Lighthouse Keeper - $100. Contributions are welcomed and accepted. Memberships are considered contributions and are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Make checks payable to: Friends of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Membership lasts from January 1 until December 31. Memberships issued in 2003 are good until December 2004. Charter membership ends on December 31, 2003.
You may request a membership form, or you may send the following information with your check: