Crooked River Light House

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Crooked River’s Lantern Fest Starts Magical Tradition

 
Donny Dennig as Pierre Viaud and Joan Matey, Lantern Fest creator.

 

 

The magic of Lantern Fest 2009

 

 

The first Lantern Fest at Crooked River Lighthouse was some enchanted evening. A hundred colorful lanterns swung from the trees surrounding the lighthouse and luminaries lined the pathways around the park. The playground's 70 foot long wooden pirate ship made a spectacular set for an evening of outdoor entertainment. First up was talented banjo player, Howard Pardue, joined by musician Ken Horne on guitar, bones and harmonica, playing traditional turn- of- the -century music. 

Historic re-enactor Andrew Edell, dressed in an authentic lighthouse keeper's garb, revealed that a keeper did much more than just keep that light burning in the tower. There were tales of many daring rescues at sea, a famous woman lighthouse keeper with a 50 year career, and a keeper's dog who'd been trained to ring the fog bell.

Talented area actors collaborated with Joan Matey, curator of the Crooked River Lighthouse and creator of the event, to present a performance of "Disaster on Dog Island: The Wreck of LeTigre." This true 1767 tale of French merchant marine Pierre Viaud and his miserable 81 days of being stranded in our wilderness occurred long, long before it was known as Tate's Hell. The adventure was certainly hellish for Viaud, played by Donny Dennig, and narrator Ed Tiley dramatically told the gruesome experiences of the Frenchman's ordeal. Caroline Illardi created the play adaption from Viaud's own book. Jeff Illardi, Margy Oehlert, Billy Hoffmeier and local student Michael Lewis portrayed other characters. With the help of stage assistants Ann Cowles and Guy Hogan, the set was magical; each actor holding a lantern as they appeared on board the ship.

 Over 150 visitors mingled under the moonlight and lanterns that night and many took the opportunity to climb the lighthouse and get a closer look at the almost full moon. You could hear  the beacon's motor turning over head in the tower and watch the beam casting it's light out over the gulf.

Inside the Keeper's House Museum, shipwreck archaeologist Franklin Price had a packed room for his scoop on the methods of underwater surveying of all sorts of submerged historic discoveries.  

Also in the museum, Ken Horne displayed exquisite specimens of scrimshaw and explained the process of this ancient art of engraving images on the teeth and tusks of marine mammals. 

 The lighthouse curator has been busy developing the keeper's work station and new artifacts that illustrate life in the 1890s were displayed for the event. The gift shop was also stocked with many new nautical items: deck prisms, books about historic lighthouses, and Tshirts showing all the lighthouses in the Florida Panhandle.

 What else could a lighthouse possibly want for its 114th birthday? Maybe a wish to have an equally magical birthday next year too!

Posted Friday, 03/11/11, 08:10 AM - Comments - Category: Events

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