Havre de Grace lighthouse will again be a stop on statewide Lighthouse Challenge

A statewide event will once again shine a light on Havre de Grace's historic Concord Point Lighthouse.

Hundreds of lighthouse enthusiasts will descend on the prominent monument at the tip of the city's Promenade, which will be spotlighted during the eighth annual Lighthouse Challenge, organized by the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, on Sept. 17 and 18.

Concord Point will be one stop among 10 for those who take part in the weekend-long tour of Maryland's historic lighthouses. (One of the stops is technically a lightship, not a lighthouse: the Seven Foot Knoll/Chesapeake Lightship at Baltimore's Inner Harbor.)

The event has been taking place on and off over the years, but promises to be a draw for lighthouse enthusiasts everywhere.

Chairwoman Karen Rosage said in excess of 700 visitors usually stop by Concord Point as part of the tour, and thousands take part in the challenge statewide.

"The response has been good and publicity has been pretty good," she said. Also, "a lot of people are traveling local."

The Chesapeake Chapter did not do the event last year because of volunteers' scheduling issues, she said.

Now the event is back by popular demand, "because people really loved it in the past," she said.

Rosage said she hopes the tour makes people more aware of the role lighthouses played in the state's maritime history.

"At one time, all the commerce was done over the waterways, not highways," she pointed out.

From 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sept. 17 and 18, volunteers will be greeting participants from around the country to tour the designated lighthouses. A souvenir depicting the lightouse will be given out at each site.

At the end of the tour, those who actually visit all 10 can also receive a special "completer" souvenir.

This year's theme is "Reading Lights the Way," to encourage participants to read about lighthouse architecture, history and the dedicated keepers who were in charge of them.

Because of that, "our souvenirs are bookmarks with pictures of the lighthouses," Rosage said.

Directions for the tour are listed from Turkey Point to Fort Washington, but can be done in any order, and participants do not have to visit all the lights.

"What we encourage above all else, is that participants drive safely," the event brochure notes. "This is a driving tour to be enjoyed, not a race just to see who finishes the Challenge first."

The event will be held rain or shine, and souvenirs will be distributed while supplies last.

Visitors should keep in mind they will have to navigate the various rules and fees for the different lighthouses.

Concord Point, as locals should know, is free to visit and has bathrooms.

The lighthouses at Point Lookout, Fort Washington, Turkey Point and Hooper Strait all have fees to enter the site. Piney Point has a fee to climb the lighthouse, while Seven Foot Knoll charges to board a ship and to park.

At Cove Point and Fort Washington, only the bases are open for tours.

There is a 42-inch height requirement to climb Concord and Turkey Point lights. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all stops.

The challenge also includes two bonus lighthouses, Sandy Point Shoal and Blackistone Lighthouse Replica.

Besides the lighthouse visits, where visitors will get special souvenirs for stopping by, the organization is also offering bonus cruises for the first time to visit some of the Chesapeake Bay's harder-to-reach water-based lighthouses.

Those cruises leave from Hoopersville on the Eastern Shore on Sept. 15, 16 and 19.

Reservations can be made with Sawyer Charters at 410-397-3743 or at http://www.sawyercharters.com.

They are optional and do not count toward event completion, but will earn participants another souvenir.

Several writers who are known for lighthouse-related literature will be at various sites during the event.

They include Wendy Brewer, who has photographed more than 450 lighthouses and is releasing her first book, "Keep Your Glow On"; Mary Louise and Candace Gifford, co-authors of four books on lighthouses; Cathy Taylor, who has published "Maryland's Lighthouses"; and several lighthouse artists and photographers – Donna Elias, Myrna Cherrix, Bill Conway and Harry Fahl.

Fahl and Elias will be at Concord Point.

The Chesapeake chapter of the nationwide Lighthouse Society sponsors visits and cruises to land-based and offshore lights and other facilities.

It works with the U.S. Coast Guard and other groups to provide access to sites normally closed off to the general public.

The chapter is based in Annandale, Va., and holds meetings throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

For more information on the challenge, go to http://www.cheslights.org.

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