Choptank River Lighthouse opens May 1

submitted to dorchester banner/Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation Choptank River Lighthouse volunteer “keepers” gather around a model of the Lighthouse after one of two recent training sessions. Pictured are (standing, from left) Beverley Lake, Tom Wilson, JoAnne Baker, Ann Franz, Paul Harrison, Harriet Leap, and (kneeling, from left) Valerie Goff and Maureen Kincaid.

submitted to dorchester banner/Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation
Choptank River Lighthouse volunteer “keepers” gather around a model of the Lighthouse after one of two recent training sessions. Pictured are (standing, from left) Beverley Lake, Tom Wilson, JoAnne Baker, Ann Franz, Paul Harrison, Harriet Leap, and (kneeling, from left) Valerie Goff and Maureen Kincaid.

CAMBRIDGE — Visitation season at the Choptank River Lighthouse on Long Wharf in Cambridge begins on May 1 and runs through the end of October.

“This is going to be our biggest and best season yet,” promises Cassie Burton, the president of the Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation, a community nonprofit group that works to promote the Lighthouse and enhance the experiences it offers to visitors. “We are very excited to be getting back to the work we love — welcoming all of the visitors who come to explore our waterfront in the warmer months.”

Located on the Choptank River waterfront at Long Wharf Park, the Lighthouse has seen more than 20,000 visitors come through its doors since opening in 2012. The replica beacon will be open to the public daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., for self-guided tours through Oct. 31.

The Foundation organizes and supports a roster of volunteer “Lighthouse keepers” to be on duty at the Lighthouse on Friday afternoons, Saturdays, Sundays, and most holidays. These keepers act as museum docents, greeting visitors and telling them stories about the Lighthouse and its connections to the rich maritime history of Dorchester County. They also help connect visitors with other attractions in the city and county, pointing them toward the shops, restaurants, and museums that fit their interests.

An array of printed visitor information is also available in the Lighthouse, much of it designed and produced by Dorchester County Tourism.
“That economic development angle is a big part of our mission,” says Valerie Goff, who coordinates the Foundation’s volunteer program. “Wherever possible, we try to help our Lighthouse visitors find their way to other local attractions and businesses.”

The new season promises to be quite a busy one:

• In the upstairs portion of the Lighthouse, there is a special exhibit, “View from the Lighthouse: The Underground Railroad.” It explores how the views in all four directions from the deck that circles the Lighthouse have important stories to tell about the life of Harriet Tubman and others who sought freedom in slavery times.

• Starting in May, tickets will be on sale for the annual Lighthouse raffle. The prize will be a party for 20 people inside the Lighthouse on the night of the community’s Fourth of July fireworks show. A picnic-style supper will be provided that evening by Jimmie & Sook’s Raw Bar and Grill as part of the prize. Details on ticket availability will be announced soon.

• The Foundation’s volunteer keepers also staff the Lighthouse to welcome cruise ship visitors and other special groups. Last year, American Cruise Lines offered six cruises with stops in Cambridge; this year, the company has increased that itinerary to 11 cruises.

• Starting in May, the Lighthouse will launch its annual giveaway drawing. All visitors who post photos of themselves at the Lighthouse on social media sites will be entered into an end-of-season drawing for a canvas print of a photo of the Lighthouse by Jill Jasuta Photography. The 24-inch by 36-inch print will be on display inside the Lighthouse during the season. The contest is open to local residents as well as visitors. More details on this drawing will be announced in the coming weeks as well.

• On Aug. 25, the Lighthouse Foundation will hold its third annual “Light Night” celebration of the Choptank River Lighthouse. The event will be held just up Water Street at the Cambridge Yacht Club. A sellout in both of its first two years, the event features hors d’oeuvres, music, dancing, auctions, and more, all organized and executed by a team of more than a dozen volunteers. Tickets will go on sale in June.

• The Lighthouse Foundation is also spearheading a plan to install exterior “architectural-style” lighting at the Choptank River Lighthouse before the end of this season. In the works for more than two years now, that project involves partnerships with the City of Cambridge, Bruce Dunlop Lighting Design, and Tomey Electric, Inc. The Foundation is spearheading a fundraising campaign asking private donors to help take the lighting project to the finish line this summer. The Nathan Foundation, the Waddell Foundation, and the Phase Foundation have all announced support for the project.

For information about these initiatives and other questions about the Lighthouse, contact Jim Duffy, the Foundation’s part-time executive director, at 410-463-2635 or ChoptankLighthouse@gmail.com. The foundation always welcomes inquiries from potential volunteers as well.

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