Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest standing and operating lighthouse in the United States, turns 250 this week, and you’re cordially invited to the celebration.
From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Gateway National Recreation Area will welcome visitors to enjoy an educational day with various programs — all free of charge (just tell the guard house employees that you’re attending the event), according to a National Park Service release.
“For 250 years, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse has stood as a beacon of hope, surviving a revolution, hurricanes and two world wars,” said Superintendent Jennifer T. Nersesian. “Since its first lighting in 1764, it has guided thousands of ships to safe harbor, keeping countless lives safe. The nation’s oldest standing and operating lighthouse inspires us to weather adversity, such as how Fort Hancock and our neighboring communities have survived challenges like Hurricane Sandy.”
The Fifes and Drums Band of the Old Barracks in Trenton will kick off the ceremony with Colonial-era marching music at 11 a.m. High school students from Sandy Hook’s own Marine Academy of Science & Technology (MAST) will present a color guard. Speakers will then welcome the public, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:45 am.
And that’s just the beginning. The National Park Service has a full slate of activities:
Lighthouse tours from 12 noon to 4:30 pm. To get to the top, visitors must climb 95 steps on a spiral staircase and a nine-rung ladder.Children must be at least 48 inches tall to get to the top.
Musket and cannon demonstrations by Revolutionary War living historians.
Musket drills and Colonial era children’s games on the main parade ground.
1700s bateau (flat-bottom boat) demonstrations on the bayside beach, opposite Guardian Park Picnic Area.
Talks on the life of a lighthouse keeper and the history of colonial lighthouses by U.S. Lighthouse Society President Wayne Wheeler, held in a tent near the Lighthouse Keepers Quarters.
MAST Interactive Herbarium on the lighthouse grounds.
Food and beverages from local concessions.
Tables from representatives of organizations located at Sandy Hook and history groups.
In the Lighthouse Keepers Quarters: exhibits, gift shop (including 250th anniversary souvenirs).
The original whale oil lamps of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse were first lighted on June 11, 1764, according to the National Park Service.
For more information, contact the Sandy Hook Visitor Center at (732) 872-5970.