■ BY SUE ERWIN
Catch a view of the entire island and celebrate Florida Lighthouse Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.
On this one special day each year, visitors are invited to climb the island lighthouses.
Guests will be able to visit two lights this year, the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse at 220 Gulf Blvd. and the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse at 880 Belcher Road in Gasparilla Island State Park. The Gasparilla Island Lighthouse has been recently restored and boasts a view of the entire island from the top.
Everyone is invited to come and enjoy cake and lemonade, and to speak with authors and environmental groups at the event. There will also be activities for kids.
Admission to the event is free. There is a $3 Florida State Parks parking fee per vehicle. The cost to climb is $5 per person per light. Kids 9 and under are free. You must be 44-inches tall to climb.
Due to the size, only 108 people will be able to climb the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse on Florida Lighthouse Day.
The Barrier Island Parks Society is sponsoring the event.
Sign up via http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090c4badac28aaf58-florida.
No physical tickets are required; just reserve your climb time online and arrive early.
Barrier Island Parks Society Executive Director Sharon McKenzie said there will more vendors as well as a food truck this year.
“We look forward to having both lighthouses open again this year to celebrate the important maritime heritage of Gasparilla Island’s historical beacons,” McKenzie said.
All the proceeds go to helping keep the lighthouses open to the public.
Last year, more than 500 attended, with both lighthouses being open to the public for the first time in the island’s history.
“It will be a fun event, with free giveaways like our lighthouse fans and cake,” McKenzie said. “I hope everyone comes out to see us at this wonderful annual event celebrating both our island lighthouses’ heritage.”
All fees support the preservation and operation of these beloved historical treasures.
For more information, visit barrierislandparkssociety.org.