Old Barney shines again

January 1, 2009 6:37:41 PM PST
New Jersey's most visited lighthouse is now shining again. A new, state-of-the-art rotating light was switched on Thursday at the Barnegat Lighthouse, exactly 150 years after the lighthouse first started operating. Several hundred people turned out for the low-key ceremony, which occurred just after 5 p.m.

The 162-foot red and white tower at the head of Long Beach Island is the third-tallest lighthouse in the nation and one of the Jersey shore's best-known landmarks.

A nonprofit group, Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, spearheaded the effort to recommission the lighthouse and raised $20,000 to replace the glass around the light. They had thrown the lighthouse a super-sized birthday party last October, so no major celebration was planned for Thursday night.

The Long Beach Township Fraternal Order of Police Lodge donated $15,000 for the new light, which is smaller than the original but still capable of projecting a beam more than 20 miles out to sea.

The light also meets Coast Guard regulations and can be used to aid navigation.

Getting the replacement light was a challenge. For one, the cash strapped state government said it would not provide any money to the effort. And some nearby residents worried about light pollution.

The plan is for the light be on from dusk until dawn daily.

The lighthouse has been open to tourists since 1957. Visitors can climb the lighthouse's stairs on weekends.

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