Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Annual festival set to raise funds for Toledo Harbor Lighthouse


The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse.

The Blade
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From the shores of Maumee Bay State Park, the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse is just a dark speck in the distance. To the naked eye, it looks as though it could be a boat anchored far out in the water.

Yet up close, the Romanesque structure surrounded by boulders creates a majestic mirror image in the water, doubling its 64 foot rise above the surface.

"You think of a lighthouse as being round with a black top and a light going around," said former keeper Tim Mayer, who lived in the lighthouse in 1964, 1965, and for part of 1966 as a third class engineman with the U.S. Coast Guard. "This light is different ... the Toledo light is unique in its structure and longevity."

Saturday Entertainment

10 a.m. -- Island Music Dick McCarthy

11 a.m.-1 p.m. -- Genoa American Legion Band; Sand Castle Building

1 p.m. -- Polish Community Band

3 p.m. -- Eddie Boggs Band

5 p.m. -- Caribbean Steel Drums

7 p.m. -- Tribute to the Beach Boys by Randy & Reef Sharks

Sunday Entertainment

10 a.m. -- Boat/Lake River Music Russ Franzen

11 a.m. -- Genoa American Legion Band

1 p.m. -- Captain Kurt Summer Music

3 p.m. -- Magician and Pupateer Comedy

4 p.m. -- Silent auction Ends

4:30 p.m. -- Boat/Lake River Music Russ Franzen

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon can celebrate the lighthouse from land and lake at the ninth Annual Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival. The event is free, but a donation of $2 is requested from visitors.

The festival began in 2004 as a 100th birthday celebration for the lighthouse, which was completed and dedicated in 1904.

This year's festival is also a landmark event -- it's the first time that visitors will be able to tour the inside of the lighthouse for a fee of $45 for nonmembers and $40 for members. In previous years visitors could only take a boat that traveled around the perimeter of the Lighthouse and around Turtle Island, an option that will still be available this year for $35 for nonmembers and $32 for members, said Sandy Bihn, president of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society.

The main goal of the festival, which Ms. Bihn said attracted thousands of people last year, is to raise money for the restoration of the building. The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society has received a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant that requires a $138,000 match. So far, the preservation society has raised about $30,000, Ms. Bihn said. The total restoration will cost about $1.5 million to $1.75 million, and will be executed in three phases, the first of which entails tucking the brick, and installing new windows, doors, and shutters. Ms. Bihn said the preservation society would like to begin restoration efforts in the coming year.

Last year's festival grossed about $20,000 to $25,000.

"Each year [the festival] gets bigger and bigger," said board member and volunteer Mary Frankland of Ann Arbor. "Word is getting out more and that's what we need. We need as much support from the community and state as we can get."

Along with boat tours out to the lighthouse, this year's event will feature a sand castle contest, a nautical-themed arts and crafts village with more than 50 participating vendors, about 20 percent of whom have participated in prior years, and musical entertainment.

Ms. Bihn anticipated that large crowds might be drawn to Saturday night's Beach Boys tribute concert that will be performed by Randy and the Reef Sharks.

There also will be a silent auction with more than 200 items as well as activities for younger family members such as performances by a magician and a puppeteer.

Although much of the festival's activity takes place on land, the focus remains on the water and the historic lighthouse five miles from the shore, where Lake Erie meets Maumee Bay.

Ms. Bihn acknowledged that while there is a fair amount of recognition for Marblehead Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio, because of its status as the oldest lighthouse in the Great Lakes, she would like to see the same recognition afforded to Toledo's beacon.

"It would be my hope that one of the things to come out of this is that people begin to see more momentum in the Toledo Lighthouse," she said. "It could be a help for Ohio and its economy."

Contact Madeline Buxton at or 419-724-6368.

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