In an annual celebration of the long-time bond between the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum and the Junior Service League of St. Augustine, Inc. (JSL), the Museum will host the annual Night Fest on Saturday, February 29 from 4-8pm. Night Fest is held in conjunction with the JSL’s 38th annual Lighthouse 5K & Fun Run at the St. Augustine Light Station. The Annual Night Fest started as JSL Community Day in 1994 with the Junior Service League celebrating the preservation of the lighthouse tower, the Keepers’ House, and the relighting of the original Fresnel lens. The restoration project ran from 1980 to 1994, raising $1.2 million.
“Everyone in the community pitched in – from our state representative Hamilton UpChurch – to local school children,” said Museum Executive Director, Kathy A. Fleming. “There were salad tastings, garage sales, and progressive dinners as well as state grants. We would not be here with the Junior Service League and the community support they garnered.”
Today the Museum continues the tradition of leadership and community focus, reinvesting almost 90 cents from every dollar it makes back into the preservation of the light station and associated educational programs. “The JSL first lit that spark of service in 1980. We still need support from our community to keep our work and mission shining,” Fleming said.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will be open for free to all guests beginning at 4pm until 8pm. Children’s activities are offered on the grounds, and refreshments will be available for purchase. All proceeds support the nonprofit Museum.
Visitors can climb 219 steps to the top of the 165-foot historic tower for breathtaking views of downtown St. Augustine, the beaches, and the Nation’s Oldest Port. “You can also watch the lens come on, and it’s a fantastic experience if you happen to be up there at just the right time,” Fleming said.
Explore exhibits in the restored Keepers’ House and Maritime Education Center. See artifacts from shipwrecks and talk with the staff archaeologists while you check out the Charles G. Cox Conservation Laboratory and the PGA Viewing Room.
Also, guests can visit the buildings which were here during WWII. The Coastal Lookout Quarters was built in 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor and holds a display of U.S. Coast Guard artwork. A 1936 garage that was a maintenance facility in WWII now is restored and holds The Tin Pickle, a Gedunk with snacks and great local beer. Guests also can take a Maritime Hammock Scavenger Hunt on the nature trails, explore the shipyard playground, and play hands-on games for children and families. There is something for everyone.
The Museum’s nonprofit mission is “to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of our Nation’s Oldest Port, as symbolized by our working St. Augustine Lighthouse.” “It all began when the League raised $1.2 million from the community to restore the oldest brick structures in St. Augustine,” continued Fleming, who is an active sustainer of the JSL.
The Museum receives an annual gift from the JSL of $7,500 generated by the Lighthouse Fun Run & 5K. The 5K also helps other fundraising goals of the League and through them it supports other community nonprofits. “We are so proud each year to say thank you to our community in the same way the JSL did.”
For more details about the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, visit www.staugustinelighthouse.org or call 904-829-0745.