Starting on Saturday, Aug. 1, and continuing for an entire week, Fenwick Island will be turning back the clock for an eight-day celebration of the beach town’s heritage. The first-ever Old Fenwick Island Days will take place from Aug. 1 through Aug.8, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Visitors and residents are welcome to relive the past through photographs, historic tours and exclusive presentations, with a festival in the park wrapping things up on Saturday, Aug. 8.
Town Clerk Agnes DiPietrantonio said she is excited about the event.
“It sounds as though there’s an awful lot of interest,” she said. “People have been bringing in photos and artifacts, especially lately.”
The Fenwick Island Town Hall will feature displays and scanned images from Monday, Aug. 3, through Friday, Aug. 7, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. An outdoor exhibit from Hastings Funeral Home will also be presented during the week. A guided walking tour will take place on Thursday, Aug. 6, starting at 10 a.m. at the town hall.
Saturday’s festival, set for Aug. 8 in the park next to town hall, will run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and cap off the week with plenty to do for the whole family.
Starting at 10 a.m., family and friends can enjoy opening remarks and musical entertainment, with Mary Pat Kyle, former Fenwick Island mayor and author of “Fenwick Island: A Brief History,” signing copies of her books at 11 a.m.
At noon, Lt. Col. Everett “Sonny” Long, Fenwick Island’s first lifeguard, will recount stories from the early years. Former council member Harry Haon will then provide stories from Col. G. Schulz’s “South Pacific” and offer history of the bayside.
At 2 p.m., the Don Sharp Group will provide musical entertainment, with the raffle drawing and closing remarks at 3 p.m.
The Fenwick Island Lighthouse is celebrating 150 years from its first lighting. Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 1 and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Aug. 2, the public is welcome to join local artists, authors and historians, including Donna Elias – watercolor artist and creator of the acclaimed Great American Lighthouses Collection – at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Elias plans to highlight her works from the series and feature dozens of prints, paintings and giftware items, and will be signing copies of the artwork, as well.
The Fenwick Lighthouse anniversary will also host Dale Clifton Jr. of the Discoversea Museum in Fenwick Island; Wayne Kirkland, author of the book “Lightship”; Dave Bernheisel, historian and expert on the Lightship Overfalls; and Harry Spencer, son of the Liston Range lightkeeper.
Representatives from the Indian River Coast Guard Station and Delaware River and Bay Association will also be on hand to answer questions.
Friday, Aug. 7, is recognized as National Lighthouse Day, celebrating the importance of lightships and lighthouses along the nation’s coastline.
Unframed 11-by-14-inch posters commemorating the event will be on sale at the town hall and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse during the weeklong celebration.
A rain date of Aug. 2 is scheduled for the Fenwick Lighthouse anniversary celebration, in case of threatening weather on Saturday, Aug. 1. If weather is not cooperative for the festival in the park, set for Aug. 8, the associated events will be moved inside Fenwick Island Town Hall.
“We just want people to treasure this town and the lighthouse,” said Winnie Lewis, member of the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse and the town’s Cultural and Historic Preservation Sub-Committee. “We’re trying to keep a pictorial record and letters about the town. It’s a way to preserve something for our grandchildren and generations after them.”
Lewis has been part of the Friends’ work readying the lighthouse for the anniversary.
“I wanted to tie together activities with the lighthouse with the Old Fenwick Island Days,” Lewis said. “The lighthouse is the reason the town is here today. We’ve been very happy with the number of people who have been coming by. We have a lot of information and a lot of visitors this year. People have a lot of questions and are interested with the history.”
Old Fenwick Island Days is sponsored by the Town of Fenwick Island and the New Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Funding for the event was provided by the Delaware Humanities Forum. Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH) and the Fenwick Island Lion’s Club are also donating their time and effort to help bring the event together.
“It’s taken time to get things together,” said DiPietrantonio. “But it’s all come together. Old Fenwick Island Days is a great way to preserve the past and share with people the way life used to be.”
For more information about Old Fenwick Island Days, visit www.fenwickisland.org, or call the town hall at (302) 539-3011. For additional information about the Fenwick Island Lighthouse and its 150th Anniversary Celebration, visit http://fenwickislandlighthouse.org.