A group of lighthouse volunteers had been working diligently for more than a month to organize a big open house event at the lighthouse. Now that the first really visible part of the Point Wilson Light Station Preservation Project is well and truly underway, we had decided it was the right time to reach out to the local community to let them know what we're up to and get their support.
Voluneteers personally invited many people and organizations, talked to the local media and to local leaders, made signs, banners and decorations. We developed a speakers list, chose one of our own as MC, and invited Port Gamble S'Klallam tribe members to give a blessing. We were on it.
The day of the event dawned dark, foggy and cold. No matter – the weather will get better. Then as we completed the final preparations, it started to rain. At first it was just a PNW "mist." Bah! People won't melt in a little mist. We forged on.
As we began to set up chairs for those who would find it hard to stand for the program, the mist started to get a bit less misty and more like, well, rain. No matter: We'll just set up the pop-up canopy tents the Lighthouse Society brought "just in case." As we did, the wind rose and the rain came down like it meant it. Time to add sandbags to hold the canopies down. We watch Whidbey Island disappear in the rain. The clock ticks toward our 3pm start.
Then suddenly, with ten minutes to go, the wind drops. The rain stops. Whidbey pops into view. Big patches of blue sky appear in the west. And we're off! Guests begin arriving, skirting puddles left by the departing rain. First came a few intrepid souls and then bigger groups until something over a hundred had gather for the program. We're excited to see representatives from the City, from the County, the Chamber, the Historical Society, the Coast Guard, the Washington State Ferries, many of the organizations headquartered at Fort Worden, members from local media and many, many neighbors!
The program kicks off with an opening blessing and a drumming ceremony by members of the Port Gamble S'Klallam tribe. All of us involved with the project are grateful for their blessing and look forward to working with them as we develop interpretive signage for the site.
Next up: an introduction to the U. S. Lighthouse Society and a description of the Point Wilson Preservation Project. (Whew! We have a bunch to do.) The formal part of the day wraps up with words of encouragement from leaders from among the invited organizations.
With the formal part of the program complete, the attendees move on to tour the various buildings at the light station, and the raffle for a two-night stay at the chief's house opens.
For many of our guests, this turns out to be the first time they've been inside any of the buildings. And, of course, the lighthouse is the most popular, by far! The most common comment heard is how happy everyone is that the project is underway.
We're off to a great start. The sun is shining on the project. The community supports it. Thanks to one and all, to the volunteers who organized the event, to the speakers, and to the many community members who came out on a day the looked pretty intimidating. The open house is a big success!
Speaking of big successes: the winner of the raffle is Ed Sitman of Vancouver, WA! Congratulations, Ed. We look forward to hosting you at the light station.