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The American Lighthouse  Foundation is a  Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization dedicated  to the preservation of America's historic lighthouses.

 

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Festive-Looking Portland Head Light Makes History Through Community Partnership with the Coast Guard

 

 
 

Portland Head Light has witnessed much in the way of history over its 218 years of service to the mariner, but on December 11, 2009, the venerable sentinel made new lighthouse history at the site thanks to a community partnership between the Town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and the United States Coast Guard.

 

An anonymous donor provided The Museum at Portland Head Light with a festive lighted wreath, which the Coast Guard graciously agreed to install properly on the lighthouse for the season.

 

The wreath, which is outfitted with energy efficient LED (light emitting diodes) lights, was officially unveiled

Portland Head Light adorned with a festive wreath outfitted with LED lights

Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.   

Portland Head Light adorned

with a festive wreath

outfitted with LED lights

 
 

for the public to enjoy during a ceremony at the lighthouse despite the presence of blustery winds sweeping across the site.

 

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, the event “marks the first of its kind for the famous Maine lighthouse and stems from a widespread tradition in which many Coast Guard units around the country join their local communities to decorate lighthouses for the holidays.”

 

Captain James B. McPherson, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, was joined at the podium in front of the lighthouse

 
 

Captain James B. McPherson addresses the audience during the unveiling ceremony

Photo by Ann-Marie Trapani    

Captain James B. McPherson addresses the audience during the unveiling ceremony,

with (L to R) James Rowe, chairman, Cape Elizabeth town council, Cheryl Leeman, regional representative for U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and Bob Trapani, Jr.,

executive director for the American

Lighthouse Foundation, looking on (not visible...Jennifer Duddy, state office representive for U.S. Senator Susan Collins)

during the unveiling ceremony by Cheryl Leeman, regional representative for U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe, Jennifer Duddy, state office representative for U.S. Senator Susan Collins, James Rowe, chairman of the Cape Elizabeth town council and Bob Trapani, Jr. executive director for the American Lighthouse Foundation.

 

“I want to thank the Coast Guard and the Portland Head Light Museum for the opportunity to display the wreath for the community to enjoy during the holidays,” said James Rowe.

 

 
 

“We are happy to participate in this event with the Coast Guard,” Jeanne Gross, the director of the Portland Head Light Museum, added. “For years, we have thought a wreath would look wonderful on the tower at Portland Head and this year we will actually see one. Thank you to our donor who has made this project possible.”

 

More so than the other military services in our country, the Coast Guard is an integral part of our nation’s coastal communities, and not just with its

 
 

mission-based services. The men and women of the Coast Guard go out of their way to be an integral part of local community’s fabric and help make where we live, work and play a better place.

 

This type of community partnership effort was on display at Portland Head Light through the establishment of the wreath on the lighthouse, but the effort also shed light on the importance of deep-rooted seafaring traditions in Maine.

 Personnel from Sector Northern New England take a moment to pose for a group picture in front of the lighthouse

Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.   

 Personnel from Sector Northern New

England take a moment to pose for a group picture in front of the lighthouse as a

morale boosting gesture for an ill

comrade who could not be in attendance

 
 

 

“The wreath provided an opportunity to remind the local community and Coast Guard personnel that we have a wonderful maritime heritage to celebrate,” said Captain James B. McPherson. “Our predecessors, which includes proud organizations like the U.S. Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service, have been on duty in Maine since 1791. That really is a marvelous heritage.”

 

Captain McPherson touched on an aspect of this rich history during his remarks by recounting a famous shipwreck and rescue at Portland Head Lighthouse that occurred in 1886 on a night that lightkeeper Joshua Strout described as so bad, “Even Santa Claus was afraid to be out.”

 
 

A close-up view of the wreath atop the lighthouse

Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.     

A close-up view of the wreath

 atop the lighthouse

 

“The Christmas wreath has also provided the background to remind everyone that on Christmas Eve in 1886, the lighthouse keeper and his family saved 18 crewmembers from the frigid weather and high seas when the British bark Annie C. Maguire ran aground at Portland Head Light,” said Captain McPherson. 

 

Just like the vigilant watch that enabled keeper Strout and his family to notice and rescue the shipwreck victims of the Annie C. Maguire one hundred and twenty three years ago, the United States Coast Guard continues its vigilant watch in the

 
 

21st century; something Captain McPherson conveyed to those in attendance at the wreath unveiling ceremony.

 

“Coast Guard men and women, and our predecessors, have stood the watch faithfully in Maine since 1791,” said Captain McPherson. “The Portland Head lightkeeper and his family stood the watch on Christmas Eve in 1886 – and on this holiday season in 2009, 87 Coast Guard personnel from Sector Northern New England will be standing the watch at eight (8) search & rescue stations, aboard eight (8) Coast Guard cutters, and in the rescue command center.”

 

 
 

Bob Trapani, Jr. of the American Lighthouse Foundation concluded the ceremony by remarking, “May the Christmas wreath established today on Portland Head Light symbolically close the circle in our hearts so that the deep-rooted traditions of benevolence associated with Christmas and lighthouses can connect us with our family, friends and neighbors in a way that touches the lives of others for the better this Christmas, and throughout the year.”

The wreath at Portland Head Light was made possible thanks to an anonymous donor and the community partnership between the Town of Cape Elizabeth and the U.S. Coast Guard

Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.  

The wreath at Portland Head Light was

made possible thanks to an anonymous donor

 and the community partnership between

the Town of Cape Elizabeth and

the U.S. Coast Guard

 
 

 

Posted: 12/17/2009

 

 
 

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