HAYNES TOWNSHIP - The Alcona Historical Society will combine its annual Historical Day with its Sanctuary Bay sailboat regatta fundraiser on Saturday in a maritime history-themed event at Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard's 222nd birthday and the activation of a new LED lantern for the tower.
Historical Day will be open at the lighthouse grounds and the old Bailey School from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, with the regatta scheduled for 1 p.m. off the beach about a mile north of the lighthouse. Visitors may watch from Sturgeon Point or walk along the shore for a closer view of the race and the Marine City shipwreck. Event Chair Linda Klemens said the race always has been on a Sunday in the past, but many of the participants had planned to move south for the winter on Sunday and moved the date to Saturday to coincide with Historical Day.
Tawas City's Coast Guard unit will present the new lantern and conduct a "change of command" ceremony at 1:30 p.m. to relegate joint ownership of the lantern to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Alcona Historical Society. The old, less-efficient fresnel lens will be turned off but remain in place. Klemens said the Coast Guard also will be on hand for a live exhibit on how it used to rescue stranded sailors: a lyle gun on shore would fire a rope to be tied to the mast of a ship, which was then run back to shore and used to carry people in baskets away from the vessel.
Historical Day also will host quilters and other historical exhibits, open tours of Bailey School, live music by authentic Native American flautist and musician Silver Fox, a caterer with hot dogs and brats for donations, and a variety of activities for children. Specific exhibits change year to year, and the old tradition of selling strawberry shortcakes at the event has been replaced by selling old fashioned cookies, Klemens said, but the historical society's goal remains the same.
"It's to draw attention to the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and Bailey School, and to invite people out for a special event so they can see what's at Sturgeon Point and see what we're doing out there," she said.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5693.