Hillsboro Lighthouse marks honor and Columbus Day with weekend of tours
The October tour of the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse is turning into a holiday for everyone -- a three-day celebration of Columbus Day as well as a rare glimpse of a lighthouse with a beam visible from 28 nautical miles out to sea. This time, however, the lighthouse tour is a nod to the fact that the dedicated preservation society has been selected the official host of the Florida Lighthouse Association’s Lighthouse Congress, a conversation about the state’s 30 lighthouses.
To celebrate, members of the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society and the Florida Lighthouse Association have planned an entire weekend of events and tours, from October 11 to October 14.
Town of Hillsboro Beach residents may want to reserve Monday, however.
“What we are doing is devoting Monday to Hillsboro town residents – only Monday which is Columbus Day,” explained Art Makenian, HLPS president.
Mayor Dan Dodge, the general manager of the 145-room private club, announced at a town commission meeting that town residents, even those who are not club members, will be allowed to drive into the private property, park, and take a walking tour of the coast guard station, lighthouse and keeper’s cottage.
Everyone else will have to arrive by boat.
For this lighthouse tour, however, they have three days to get there. From Saturday, October 12, to Monday, October 24, a chartered boat will leave for the lighthouse from the Sands Harbor Hotel, 125 N. Riverside Dr. in Pompano Beach. The first boat departs at about 9 a.m. the last boat leaves the Sands Harbor Hotel at 2:30 p.m. The last boat from the Lighthouse returns at about 4 p.m.
The 20-minute boat ride up the Intracoastal Waterway to the Lighthouse is followed by a chance to enjoy 20 points of interest on the grounds. Among them: the Keeper cottage, the Centennial Brick Patio, the Barefoot mailman statue – as well as music, story tellers and a climb up the lighthouse tower.
On Sunday, an expanded celebration will include live music and food. Beverages will be available for purchase. The day concludes at 6 p.m. with a 90-minute $25 sunset cruise leaving from South Florida Diving Headquarters, 2621 N. Riverside Drive in Pompano Beach.
United States Coast Guard regulations require that lighthouse visitors have flat shoes with rubber soles and closed toes. No sandals, flip-flops or shoees with heels are allowed inside the lighthouse. Children must be accompanied by an adult and be a minimum of 48 inches tall to climb the tower. No pets are allowed.
As for that powerful beam, credit the Fresnel lens. Resembling nothing so much as a massive glass beehive, it is comprised of glass plates that bend the light, concentrating it into a narrow beam, the most powerful lighthouse beam in the world.
For information, see www.hillsborolighthouse.org.