■ STAFF REPORT
Images of Jupiter’s beloved, iconic Light are everywhere, and now a very special one is coming to a Florida Tax Collector’s office near you. On Aug. 9, the Department of Motor Vehicles will offer official ‘Visit Our Lights’ Florida Lighthouses’ specialty license plate with a redesigned look featuring an original artist’s rendering of Palm Beach County’s Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.
For nearly a decade the plate has featured Florida’s first light, St. Augustine Lighthouse. The Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA) Board of Directors, which created the original plate, decided in 2017 to change the artwork to feature another of the Sunshine State’s sparkling lights. The vote fell to the Jupiter Light for its national significance and local popularity. The beautiful rendering was created by Master Artist Lise Yust, who passed away in 2018. The artist had said the sunset was inspired by one she had seen from her home in Englewood, Florida. Graphic designer Dan Spinella of Artworks Florida assisted in the completion of the project.
Funds raised through the VisitOurLights.org specialty plate program and other efforts have made it possible for FLA to contribute $818,298 in grants to date toward the preservation and restoration of Florida’s 29 remaining historic lighthouses.
Sharon McKenzie, chair of the FLA marketing committee and executive director for both Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum and the recently restored Gasparilla Island Lighthouse, said, “We owe a lot to our historic beacons and their keepers, who have saved countless lives over the last century-and-a-half of their existence. By buying these specialty plates, you are not only helping to preserve a beautiful part of our history, you are honoring the lighthouses and their keepers who gave their lives to protect our local mariners during times of peace and war.”
As an active aid-to-navigation and Palm Beach County’s oldest structure, the condition of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse tower is always a daily critical concern. The Historical Society has balanced providing more access to visitors each year with careful historic preservation so that future generations may experience the climb to the top and enjoy all that the Lighthouse has to offer.
Sharon McKenzie expressed BIPS’ gratitude for the Florida Lighthouse Association, adding that “FLA has contributed generously to the ongoing restoration and preservation of both Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum and the Gasparilla Island Lighthouse. Proceeds from the new license plates will help FLA continue to support BIPS and preserve these historic landmark treasures on Gasparilla Island, as well as other iconic lighthouses in Florida.”
Only 30 of the original 65 lighthouses remain today. One is a private residence.
A 2002 study done by the State of Florida estimates that it will take almost $20 million to preserve all of Florida’s historic towers.