The 125-year-old lighthouse on Anclote Key Preserve State Park is always there to be observed and photographed, but this Saturday offers visitors a less frequent and more intimate opportunity.
Friends of Anclote Key State Park and Lighthouse, a nonprofit advocacy group for the tower and the park’s four islands, is holding the year’s first open house and climb-the-light event from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. this Saturday.
“Some of our board members will be out there, we’ll have a tent set up and somebody up top (in the lighthouse) and people can come out and learn and play,” said Ginger Phillips, the group’s new president and longtime board member. “It’s just a wonderful, fun thing to do.”
Phillips, whose great grandfather Charles Elden served as an assistant keeper to the lighthouse, said the open house represents an opportunity to teach visitors about all the state park has to offer.
“We like people to be able to come out and learn about the light, but also the coast, the birds, all of the resources out there for fun and recreation, as well as the park’s historic value,” she said.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park consists of Anclote Key, North Anclote Bar, South Anclote Bar and Three Rooker Bar. According to the Florida State Parks website, the 403-acre park is home to at least 43 species of birds, making it a popular ornithological destination year-round.
The lighthouse was originally built in the fall of 1887 and stands on the southern end of Anclote Key. After suffering through years of deterioration and neglect, the cast iron structure was revitalized when it was added as part of the preserve, and the light was relit in the fall of 2003. Sept. 13 will mark the 10th anniversary of the lighthouse’s illumination.
The public is invited to Saturday’s open house and reservations can be made in advance or the day of to take part. Given the lighthouse’s location on an island with no bridge connection to the mainland, getting to it requires a private boat or booking a seat on a group tour offered by local cruise businesses.
For more information, call (727) 940-2658 or find and like the Friends of Anclote Key State Park and Lighthouse on Facebook.