The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge celebrated another successful rookery year by hosting the lighthouse open house last weekend. When it was discovered that no other refuge staff would be available for staffing the event with Pam, an S.O.S. went out for volunteers to help out. Graciously, Friends John McPherson, Josh Pearson, and Tom Pearson offered to assist for 2-hour shifts, staffing the lighthouse stairwell to ensure safety and to answer questions of our visitors. Little did anyone know that rough seas and a deluge were awaiting the day’s special event.
On the boat ride out, Josh and Pam were splashed by salt water for 3 miles, then upon arriving at the light station, rinsed by rainwater until they were soaked from head to toe. Fourteen fearless lighthouse-lovers arrived as the rain started pouring, but wouldn’t turn back until they climbed the stairwell to the tower.
At about 11 AM, as Tom arrived, the rain stopped and clouds kept the island cool until late afternoon. Nearly 300 visitors enjoyed climbing to the tower, the white sandy beach, the young pelicans seen through the spotting scope, and tales of the island's unique cottonmouth water moccasins. None of that could have been possible without the Friends volunteers to staff the lighthouse.
Pam and Acting Manager, Ben Nottingham, (from the FL Panther NWR) extend many thanks to our Friends Josh, Tom, and John who saved the open house event. Without them, the lighthouse would not have been opened for the public.
by Ranger Pam Darty