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Fest raises funds for Huntington Lighthouse

A woman squirts water into the Sound as

A woman squirts water into the Sound as partygoers on boats surround the Huntington Lighthouse and listen to live bands during the Lighthouse Music Festival on Aug. 30, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Hundreds of vessels rocked to the sounds of reggae, soca, R & B and rock and roll blaring from the Huntington Lighthouse Saturday during a fundraiser aimed at preserving the structure.

Organizers of the 8th annual Lighthouse Music Festival on Huntington Harbor said they expected record turnout at the event, which raised money to pay for buttressing and other work. The lighthouse needs 650 tons of granite boulders to protect the concrete at its base and landing, which is being eroded by wind, weather and boat traffic.

Dan Froehlich of Huntington was among those who came out early to enjoy the show with family and friends. "It's a great day," he said. "You get to go out, see the bands. It's a great end to summer."

The all-day party on the water -- featuring bands playing from the top tier of the lighthouse -- was expected to draw more than 1,400 boats, event producer Donald Davidson said.

Among the nine bands were Chic n' Martini, Ed Travers Band, Slightly Damaged Goods, Playback, Dr. K's Motown Revue and Pamela Betti Band.

Pam Setchell, president of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, said the campaign to save the lighthouse has raised $140,000 toward a goal of $250,000. That amount would allow it to receive matching funds from the state Department of Parks and Historic Preservation.

Last year, the event raised $65,000 from advertisements in the festival program book, and from out-of-pocket donations on site gathered by Teens on the Water, a group of about 30 youngsters who shuttle from boat to boat collecting donations.

The teens, who raised $25,000 last year, raised $34,000 this year, exceeding their goal of $30,000. “Our main obligation is to raise money for the lighthouse and promote fun on the water and that it can be fun and safe,” Setchell said.

Carole Quinn of East Northport used a paddleboard to navigate among various boats, including Jet Skis, kayaks, yachts and even a tugboat.

"This is nice today," she said, noting the water's waves were manageable despite the many boats swaying so close to each other.

Town of Huntington officials imposed a 5 mph speed limit and a wide safe zone around the lighthouse to avoid collisions. The regulations on the water were enforced by the town harbormaster, the Coast Guard and the Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau, whose vessels mingled among the pleasure craft.

With Kevin Deutsch

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