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2012 Festival of Lighthouses

By The Maritime Aquarium

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Follow a festive path illuminated by 22 lighthouses – creatively built using everything from yarn and stained glass to coffee-creamer cups and personal computers – during the 11th annual “Festival of Lighthouses” at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The lighthouses were built by local artists and amateurs looking for a challenge, by families that wanted to work together on a fun project, and by students fulfilling an assignment. Now through Jan. 21, 2013, Aquarium visitors can follow these homemade beacons through the galleries and then cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse that gets the most votes wins $1,500.

The display is free with Aquarium admission.

“They’re beautiful. They’re funny. They’re clever. They’re intricate. They’re exquisite,” the Aquarium’s marketing director, Chris Loynd, said of this year’s lighthouses. “Every year, we’re blown away by the time and effort that people put into designing and building these lighthouses, which add tremendous value to our visitors’ experience through the holidays.”

Rules are kept to a minimum to allow for maximum creativity. Lighthouses must be 3 to 6 feet tall and have a working light, and may not include animal remains (such as shells). Beyond that, it’s up to the creators’ imaginations.

The 22 entries include a lighthouse covered in crocheted yarn, a lighthouse with interactive computer animation and a lighthouse that amusingly represents the 12 days of Christmas. (For the partridge in a pear tree, look for a photo of the bus used on TV’s “The Partridge Family.”) There are lighthouses made of intricately cut pieces of stone, of stained glass, of punched tin and of tiny cups of diner coffee creamer.

“Several entrants this year have told us that they’ve enjoyed viewing the lighthouse exhibits in the past and wanted to take a crack at making one themselves,” Loynd said. “But we also have nine entrants – more than one-third of the total – who are returning veterans; some of them for several years in a row. It’s become very competitive.”

Two lighthouses are modeled after real lights – the famous West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, ME, and the historic light in Sandy Hook, NJ.

Four entries were built by Stamford High School students in the pottery class of teacher Carolyn Daher.

Besides the $1,500 top award, other prizes are: $750 for second place, $375 for third; $300 for fourth; $225 for fifth; and $150 for sixth. Winners will be announced at an evening reception on Jan. 25.

The “2012 Festival of Lighthouses” is free with Maritime Aquarium general admission, which is $13.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors (65+) and $10.50 for children 2-12.

For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, IMAX movies and programs, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk inspires people of all ages to appreciate Long Island Sound and protect it for future generations. A vibrant and entertaining learning environment, it achieves this goal through living exhibits, marine science, and environmental education.

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