The busiest day of the year for the Fire Island Lighthouse, surprisingly, is not in the summer -- it’s New Year’s Day.
That’s partly because for the past decade the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society has given free nature walks along the beach along with the regular daily tour. Dave Griese, the administrator for the society, said the lighthouse is a popular place for people to go to ring in the new year, averaging 20 to 25 people for the 10 a.m. nature walk and lighthouse tour. But that number can spike exponentially, depending on the weather.
“We had a really warm day about three years ago, it was a wonderful time to walk the beach,” he said. Roughly 1,000 people showed up that day.
The New Year’s Day tour will include a shipwreck exhibit in the lighthouse, an interactive presentation of the current lighthouse and, if the wind cooperates, a trip to the top.
At this point, the lighthouse’s original lens, from 1858, isn't part of the tour. It was removed from the tower in 1933. In the 1970s it was placed on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia where it remained until 2001. Then it moved was into storage at the William Floyd Estate.
Restoration is scheduled to begin in February and be completed in time for the 25th anniversary of the lighthouse’s relighting on Memorial Day weekend, after which time the lens will be on display in an adjacent building.
The New Year's Day tour costs $6 per person, and reservations are required. Call 631-321-7028 for more information.