LORAIN — For the first time in more than 30 years, the Lorain Lighthouse will be home to overnight guests when the Lorain County Wireless Operators broadcast remotely this weekend.
The LCWO, in conjunction with the Lorain Lighthouse Foundation, Inc., will operate from the lighthouse in support of the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, which takes place today and Sunday.
The goal of the event is to “promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration.”
But there is another goal for amateur radio operators – the goal to collect, said Jeff Evans, founder of the LCWO.
Amateur radio operators collect something called entities, call signs of various locations throughout the world. Some collect places, others railroads and some collect lighthouses.
This will be the first time amateur radio operators have broadcast from the Lorain Lighthouse, so it should be a busy night, Evans said.
“This will be a sought after lighthouse because it has never been operated from,” the North Ridgeville native said.
Some collectors will stay awake all weekend looking to collect all 480 lighthouses that will be on the airwaves.
In order to collect the “Jewel of the Port,” as the Lorain Lighthouse is known, radio operators will exchange call signs, give a signal report, which describes the strength of the signal, and copy on both sides.
The four man team from LCWO will begin setting up at 8 p.m. Friday and broadcast continuously Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon.
“We will be lucky if we get a couple hours of sleep,” Evans said.
But it’s worth it.
“It’s a huge thrill to send out a call from here to Thailand or Bangladesh,” he said. “It’s bragging rights.”
And the beauty of amateur radio is that there is never a language barrier because Morse code can be used everywhere.
Evans is hoping that in addition to bolstering awareness of lighthouses that the event also renews interest in amateur radio.
The number of operators in Lorain County has dropped drastically over the years from 1,500 to only 800 today, he said.
And that is a shame because amateur radio is a useful medium of communication.
It’s tagline has always been, “When all else fails, amateur radio,” Evans said.
“We are able to provide global communication without telephones, the Internet, or cell phones,” he said.
Ed Baker, president of the Port of Lorain Foundation, will be one of the lighthouse board members spending the night at the lighthouse.
While he’s not looking forward to the accommodations, sleeping bags on the floor, or the lighthouse residents, mainly spiders, big spiders, he does recognize the possibilities this event offers.
“Hopefully, they will sit around and talk about the history of the lighthouse and Lorain,” he said.
The lighthouse is still in the process of being restored. Right now, the non-profit is working to restore the kitchen area and add furniture keeping with the era in which it was last updated — the 1950s.
Still, the group gets numerous requests each year for use of the lighthouse, even for honeymoons.
While an overnight stay isn’t ready to be approved for the general public, the foundation is raffling off three opportunities to have dinner for six, hosted by Jack lope
Lakeside restaurant, at the lighthouse. Tickets include a boat ride to the lighthouse, dinner at sunset, a wine tasting, a tour, and a boat ride home. The drawing will be held Sept. 4. Tickets cost $5 for three and can be purchased from Port Foundation members or at Jackalope Lakeside.
The foundation also offers tours of the lighthouse, which remain very popular averaging 600 to 1,000 persons per day, Baker said.
For more information about the tours or to contact the foundation, visit www.lorainlighthouse.com.
Evans may not enjoy a catered dinner while he’s at the lighthouse this weekend, but he will be well-prepared.
He has stocked up on provisions, such as non-perishable food, water, Off, bee spray, and of course, spider spray.
“More than one time we’ve slept in our lawn chairs because we didn’t want to lay down,” he said.
Don’t feel too sorry for the guys, though.
Besides getting to do something no one has done before and getting to spend the night in the lighthouse that no one has stayed in for more than 30 years, they’ve also already secured a pizza delivery.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or email@example.com.