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Benefit Provides Big Boost for Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

MOUNT DESERT – Donors at the 29th Annual Friends of Acadia Benefit on Saturday raised nearly $300,000 to protect the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse as the property is transferred to Acadia National Park. The iconic property, which has appeared on U.S. postage stamps and on a quarter in the America the Beautiful coin series, is among the most popular visitor destinations on Mount Desert Island.

Donations came fast and furious in during the paddle raise portion of the 29th Annual FOA Benefit on Saturday, Aug. 11, under the big tent on the lawn of the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor. Christie’s auctioneer Lydia Fenet inspired more than 75 attendees to support the lighthouse project.

More than 500 attendees participated in live and silent actions featuring items donated by area businesses, artists, craftspeople and individuals – all in support of preserving, protecting, and promoting the stewardship of Acadia.

While much of the surrounding land has long been a part of the park, the lighthouse structures, including the tower, keeper’s house, garages and generator buildings, are U.S. Coast Guard property. The transfer between federal agencies does not involve a cash payment but funds are needed to address outstanding maintenance and preservation needs, along with future work to facilitate public access and to repurpose the facilities.

FOA’s Senior Development Officer Shawn Keeley works closely with the volunteer planning committee throughout the year to organize the event. “We can’t thank our patrons, sponsors, donors and attendees enough for their continued outstanding generosity and support of FOA and the park,” he said. “It was a special evening made possible by so many, many special people.

The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is one-step closer toward restoration “thanks to the incredible generosity of Friends of Acadia supporters,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.

“Donations from the 2018 Annual Friends of Acadia Benefit Paddle Raise will create opportunities and maintain an iconic lighthouse for generations to come.”

After welcoming guests on Saturday, FOA President David MacDonald thanked the host committee, which included Gail Clark, Lydia Kimball, Betsy Mills, Laura Pierce, and Lynne Wheat as well as the many volunteers who make the event a success. He noted that the money raised each year at the Benefit enhances the park’s ability to adapt to new pressures and protect its fragile natural resources.

In addition to the lighthouse project, funds raised at the Benefit help FOA support many other park initiatives including the Island Explorer bus system, youth programs, natural resource restorations, and trail and carriage road maintenance.

A video about the lighthouse acquisition can be viewed on the Friends of Acadia Facebook page. Donations to the project are still being accepted online at FriendsofAcadia.org/BassHarbor.

The event’s lead corporate sponsor was Chilton Trust Company. 

A listing of all auction item donors, sponsors, patrons, and volunteer committee members can be found on the Friends of Acadia website at www.friendsofacadia.org. To find out how to contribute to next year’s event, contact Shawn Keeley at 207-288-3340 or shawn@friendsofacadia.org.

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