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Long IslandTowns

Fire Island Lighthouse shines on New Year's

The Fire Island Lighthouse operates year round, illuminating

The Fire Island Lighthouse operates year round, illuminating a beacon of light every 7.5 seconds. The beacon can be seen up to 21 miles away. (Jan. 1, 2011) Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Visitors listened intently as Bob Pedian explained why people aren’t allowed on the dunes.

The 14-year-old volunteer tour guide detailed how sand dunes are held together by beach grass and keep salt sprayed by the ocean from reaching the shrubbery along the beach. Barbara and Don Coburn of Seaford just smiled, impressed by the ninth-grader’s knowledge.

The Coburns were two of 50 people who gathered for the annual New Year’s Day beach walk and tour at the Fire Island Lighthouse. According to Dave Griese, the administrator of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society, it’s the busiest tour day of the year.

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The group moved from the beach to the lighthouse and were greeted by hot chocolate, cookies and Griese, who invited guests to climb the 156 cast-iron steps to the top. There they admired a sweeping view of Kismet, the beach and Robert Moses Bridge.

While the New Year’s trip was the first for some, Rowena and Dirk Wojtczack of Baldwin said they have been travelling to the lighthouse for New Year’s Day since they began dating 15 years ago.

“We used to travel out from Queens to see it,” Rowena said.

Now they bring their three children to see the lighthouse, and they write the year in the sand.

When they come next year they’ll have something new to look at. The lighthouse’s original Fresnel lens, which was erected in 1858, is being restored and will be placed in a building adjacent to the lighthouse on Memorial Day weekend.

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