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Lighthouse Festival Set To Welcome Newtown’s Families On Saturday

Photo: Shannon Hicks

A 20-foot tall custom built lighthouse, complete with working lights, was set up in front of Trinity Episcopal Church late afternoon Wednesday, July 12. The lighthouse will serve as a beacon for the first public event of Ben’s Lighthouse, a lighthouse festival that will take place at the church on Saturday, June 15.

The custom lighthouses are in place, including a 20-foot tall custom built lighthouse that was set up in front of Trinity Episcopal Church late Wednesday afternoon.

“What a work of love,” said one volunteer, wiping tears from her eyes as the lighthouse was put into place.

The temporary, small-scale building — complete with rotating light in its lantern room — will serve as a beacon for The Lighthouse Festival, a very special event being offered at the church this weekend.

The lighthouse has six sides, representing the adults who were killed on 12/14. It has 20 windows, each filled with its own color, and each representing a child who died that morning, explained the Reverend Kathie Adams-Shepherd.  

On Saturday, children will be invited to climb onto the base of the lighthouse and step inside its lower half, where chalkboards await their drawings and names. 

Behind the lighthouse, hanging down the front of the church, a large banner also serves to remind passersby of what will be taking place in just a few days.

The Lighthouse Festival is the kickoff event for Ben’s Lighthouse, a foundation working toward helping and healing Newtown’s children. Over the coming months and years, Ben’s Lighthouse will host various community-building events, workshops, and programs for various age groups, and community service activities for older youth. Like this festival, all Ben’s Lighthouse activities and programs will be open to all area children and families and will promote healing in a safe and nonviolent environment.

The festival will take place on Saturday, June 15, from 10 am to 4 pm, at Trinity Church, 36 Main Street (next to the flagpole). Admission is free and there is no charge for any activities.

Nearly 1,000 pieces of artwork by Newtown’s kids are being displayed. Most rooms of the church will be utilized on Saturday for the festival.

Among the scheduled activities on Saturday, EverWonder Children’s Museum will present nautical crafts and science activities; CT Music Therapy will host “A Safe Musical Harbor,” letting kids learn and play music with a fun, nautical theme; Emerald Sketch Art Therapy’s workshop, “Create a Safe Boat on the Water,” will bring out children’s artistic talents.

Also, Eli Whitney Museum will allow kids to build and wire a working lighthouse model to bring home; Twyla Hafermann-Kessler will create interactive theater games; the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium will have a touch-tank on hand to explore undersea creatures; the US Coast Guard will display a real lifeboat, beacons, and other lights used at sea, various life vests, and bring along Coastie, their musical mascot; and Newtown Juggling and Circus Arts Club will demonstrate and teach juggling techniques.

Each hour, musical performers will take the stage mixing in nautical-themed songs and performances with other favorites. The schedule is as follows: 10 am, the Newtown High School Chamber Choir; 11am, Katie McMorran and George Primavera (NHS Class of ‘11); noon, Flagpole Radio and Newtown Youth Voices; 1 pm, (inside), Toodles and the Toy Piano Band and (outside) The Forebitters; 2 pm, Johnson Girls and Friends; and 3 pm, Trinity Choristers (youth choir).

Face painting, sand and water play for youngsters, two interactive lighthouses (the 20 foot tall one in front of the church and anotehr, 14 feet tall), comfort dogs, videos, lighthouse historians, open playspace, and other activities will provide children with a happy, fun-filled day to remember.

Lunch, snacks, and ice cream will be available for purchase from Ultimate BBQ.

The working lighthouse that was set up on June 12 was designed by Duane Langenwalter of Thin Air, LLC. An all-volunteer construction crew, led by Mr Langenwalter and Trinity Church member Larry Coleman, created and assembled the lighthouse. All of the materials were donated or heavily discounted by Interstate & Lakeland Lumber, Electrical Wholesalers, Housatonic Habitat for Humanity, Sherwin-Williams, and other businesses in and around Newtown.

“We recognize that the six-month anniversary may be yet another in a series of difficult remembrances for families in Newtown,” Rick Haylon, chairman of Ben’s Lighthouse, said in May. “We hope that this event on that same weekend will help all of us to celebrate the children and youth in our community in a fun, festive environment.”

For additional information visit benslighthouse.org.

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