■ STAFF REPORT
You’ll have to wait until next to year to see the historic Gasparilla Island Lighthouse lit again, but a big celebration is in the works for February to usher in the new beacon in the dark.
The Barrier Island Parks Society (BIPS) will be relighting the recently restored and historic Gasparilla Island Lighthouse following the installation of a replica of the original fourth-order Fresnel lens. This is after a lengthy approval process that took more than one year and required the formal approval of six federal and state government agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Now that BIPS has received the go-ahead to return the light to active status, the Lighthouse has been formally designated as a “private aid to navigation,” or a PATON, as it is known. It will also appear on maritime charts as an official beacon for mariners.
The new light, in addition to having a replica of the oriignal fourth-order Fresnel lens that was installed in 1927, will include a “turtle-friendly” Max Halo II LED amber bulb, which will provide a flashing light every six seconds as a nighttime aid to navigation for local boaters and fishermen. The lens and bulb have been ordered, and installation will take place over the next two months.
BIPS will host a relighting ceremony at the Lighthouse on February 9, 2019 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public and will be the final step to complete the restoration project that began in April, 2016.