Tours on Fridays and Saturdays thru Dec. 18
By Barb Pert Templeton
If your family’s looking for a unique way to get into a festive mood heading into the holidays the Candle Light Tours being offered at the Ford Gratiot Lighthouse might be perfect.
Visitors are invited to come out on Friday and Saturday nights beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, and running until Saturday, Dec. 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 each or admission is free for museum members. The one-hour tour covers the historic buildings on the grounds plus a climb to the top of the decorated tower, weather permitting.
The first candlelight tour leaves at 5 p.m. with tours leaving every half hour until close. The last tour will leave at 7 p.m. Participants are reminded that children cannot be carried up or down the lighthouse tower.
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Andrew Kercher, manager of community engagement for the Port Huron Museum, said this is the fifth or sixth year they have offered Candle Light Tours of the Lighthouse during the holiday season. He said the tour itself is similar to the ones given year-round at the lighthouse but everything is lit up and decorated for the season.
“The keeper’s building will have decorations that they had for Christmases in the 1930s,” Kercher said. “And actually, many of the modern Christmas decorations we use today came from the 1930s.”
There was no such thing as artificial trees or fancy perfectly designed bulbs and ornaments for Christmas trees in the 1930s. Real trees, usually chopped down from nearby land were covered in popcorn strings and homemade ornaments, and the décor was certainly not color-coordinated or centered on Saint Nicholas.
Actually, Coca-Cola played a key role in adding a jolly happy Santa image to the holidays when they introduced him in a huge advertising campaign in 1931. Up to that point Santa was depicted in a variety of ways around the world including a tall and skinny man in red, an elf and there was even a scary Santa Claus.
Then Coca-Colas commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa for the Christmas advertisements. Those paintings established Santa as a warm, happy character with human features, including rosy cheeks, a white beard, twinkling eyes, and laugh lines.
In addition to beautiful decorations on the lighthouse, keepers building, and museum shop, Kercher said there will be soft lights illuminating all the buildings as well.
Visitors will be given a battery-operated candle and led on a tour of the grounds. They can also stop in at the museum shop which will have many books, lighthouse-themed items, and Made In Michigan gifts ready to purchase.
“This is just a really fun thing to do to get into the Christmas spirit,” Kercher said.
At the conclusion of the walking tour, ticket holders will be invited to climb the tower in the lighthouse as long as the weather is okay.
Kercher said the event is a popular one and a lot of nights are for a sellout crowd. A handful of museum staffers work the event along with local volunteers.
“This is the highlight of our year, we love this event,” Kercher said.
On the last night of the tours, in this case, Dec. 18, a special “Holiday Night at the Light” event is planned and will include activities for children including a visit with Kris Kringle, Kercher said.
“Kids will be able to drop off their letters for Santa and they can also visit with him,” he added.
Tickets are available through eventbrite.com. Visitors are asked to bring their tickets to the information counter to redeem for your tour ticket(s). Tickets are only able to be redeemed once and cannot be used for multiple visits. All ticket sales are final; no refunds will be given.
Fort Gratiot Light Station is located at 2802 Omar Street in Port Huron.