Things Looking Up Again for Barnegat Lighthouse Visitors

State Parks Reopen Tuesday to Salvage Holiday Loss
Jul 04, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

LBI’s extreme north end is buzzing with visitors again as a climb up Barnegat Lighthouse is back on the list of things to do, reopened Tuesday morning in time for the Fourth of July.

Celebrations planned next Monday, July 10 for the 60th anniversary of the lighthouse state park are also back on schedule. Events from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. include tours, speakers and a rededication of the bust of 1850s lighthouse designer George Gordon Meade that was crafted by local artist Boris Blai.

The closure all weekend and Monday, a casualty of the state budget standoff, disappointed tourists and impacted surrounding business owners, who had called the closure “a bummer” and “an annoyance.”

The state park’s large parking lot and public rest rooms had also been padlocked, causing traffic congestion at the end of Broadway, inconvenience and slackened income during traditionally the busiest weekend of the summer. By Monday afternoon, a state employee who said he was working without pay had showed up and politely turned away even pedestrians who had walked around the gate.

But a state budget settlement re-opened the gates by Tuesday for picnicking, picture taking, fishing or taking on the 217 steps to the top. Or, for nonclimbers, the interpretive center has screens showing the view from four cameras posted at the top of the tower.

NJ Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Rob Geist said that a “full staff” of full-time park employees and a great number of hourly and seasonal workers were on duty to staff Barnegat Lighthouse and other state parks.

“We’re happy to have folks deciding to make the state parks and forests part of their Independence Day celebration,” said Geist. “The state parks service has worked tirelessly over the last 18 hours,” he said, to make sure the facilities across the state “are open and available for our friends and neighbors to enjoy this special American holiday.”

Tall Plans

For Park’s 60th

Those who are at the lighthouse state park on July 10 will find the best day for talks and tours on history and nature.

Tim Hart, division director of the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, will enlighten on maritime history. History of the lighthouse will be the topic of a talk by the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. Old Barney’s original lens is on display at nearby Barnegat Light Museum on Central Avenue at 5th Street.

Highlights for nature lovers are guided tours of the 1/5-mile maritime forest trail by the NJ Forest Resource Education Center, and insights about the rare beach nesting birds from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ.

The New Jersey Lighthouse Society will staff an information table. Folks can jot their thoughts onto a “memory scrapbook,” or add their photos to others taken of the park opening in 1957.

The most ceremonious of the events is the 2 p.m. rededication of the sculpture at the base of the lighthouse.

There will be a special rededication ceremony for the bust of Army Lt. Col. Meade, who was in charge of construction of the Barnegat Lighthouse in the late 1850s. The piece was created for the park by Boris Blai and unveiled during the park opening in July 1957.

Blai was also founder of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. The current LBIF board president, Rick Bushnell, will be speaking during the rededication ceremony in front of the lighthouse.

July 10 also features extended hours for climbing Barnegat Lighthouse, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

— Maria Scandale

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