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Happy 99th Birthday Kilauea Lighthouse
Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
May 11, 2012
The 99th anniversary of Kilauea Point Lighthouse drew quite a crowd on Saturday, May 5, 2012.
The weather forecast predicted a repeat of the day before: a line of marching squalls and gunmetal skies.
On the ground, wedge-tailed shearwaters moaned their courtship calls in burrows dug into a seam of land that plunged 100 feet to the sea. Across the cove from the jutting finger of land atop which the 52-foot lighthouse tower sat, red-footed boobies incubated eggs in nests atop ironwood trees, waving in the gentle trade winds. Laysan albatrosses locked their wings and slid around the peninsula to three-month-old chicks awaiting a meal of fish eggs and squid. Red-tailed tropicbirds squawked in a group dance, eye-level with the famous Fresnel lens sitting still in a diamond-paned lantern. Nene, Hawaii’s endangered goose, declined the invitation and headed for cover under a blanket of naupaka bushes.
Humans arrived, too. Gary Smith recounted tales growing up as the manager’s son of Kilauea Sugar Company. Former Kilauea Point ranger and wildlife artist Patrick Ching taught a drawing class inside the old radio house. Kumu Kehaulani Kekua led her Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai in chant and dance. And the Waipa Serenaders offered their nahenahe, sweet and melodious, sound.
Watching over the festivities sat the 99-year-old, half-restored lighthouse that has witnessed both world wars since it was built. A couple earthquakes. Several hurricanes. Paved roads and bridges. The arrival of the automobile. The first airplane to Hawaii. Electricity. RADAR. Dozens of light keepers. Hundreds of volunteers. And, always, seabirds. Thousands of seabirds.
Overhead, the sun winked, the skies delivered blue, and not a single rain drop fell.
After one-and-a-half years of restoration, the first phase of the lighthouse renovation is complete. All the metal has had its rust and paint sanded, stripped and re-finished. In the next year, the concrete will receive a face-list. The first Saturday in May 2013 will mark the 100th anniversary of Kilauea Point Light Station, and you are invited to join us for an even bigger celebration and the unveiling of a new, 100-year-old lighthouse.
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