NORWALK — A Newtown woman’s model lighthouse, made from Twinkies®, Ho Hos® and other Hostess snack cakes, is helping to light the way for visitors in The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk as part of the Aquarium’s 12th annual Festival of Lighthouses Contest.
Donna Kern Ball’s “Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Lighthouse” is among the 22 creative lighthouses in the holiday display, which is open until January 20, and included with paid Aquarium admission. Aquarium visitors can follow these homemade beacons through the galleries and then cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse with the most votes wins $1,500.
The lighthouses were built by local artists looking for a challenge, by friends and families who wanted to work together on a fun project, and by students fulfilling an assignment.
“The best gifts are those gifts that are unexpected yet show great thought,”?said Judith Bacal, the Aquarium’s director of exhibits. “The Lighthouse Contest is like a gift for us each year, because the designs are always so unexpected and the finished works show such thought and craftsmanship.”
Rules are kept to a minimum to allow for maximum creativity. Lighthouses must be 3 to 6 feet tall and have a working light, and may not include animal remains (such as shells). Beyond that, it’s up to the creators’ imaginations.
This is the third year Ms Ball has entered. She and co-creator Laura Mcnamara won the contest in 2011 with their “Sugar Cookie Sheffield Island”; Ms Ball and her mother, Marie Kern, took sixth place last year with “Wooly West Quoddy.”
Her lighthouse this year is a stacked sugar-shock of Hostess-brand dessert cakes. It has eight levels of Twinkies, standing vertically. The even-numbered levels are rimmed by more of the famous snack cakes cut in half, arranged so they alternately face in and out — some showing the creamy filling, some not.
The odd-numbered levels are rimmed by Ho Hos, each turned to show its rolled-up insides. Above all that are three levels of Hostess chocolate cupcakes, and then finally the lighthouse’s light, which is topped by a conical crown covered in even more Twinkies.
On several levels, Ms Ball added familiar children’s playthings — a ball, a beach pail, roller skates, a doll and other objects — that look like they were made of Play-Doh.
Actually, the objects are deliciously edible as well. Ms Ball made them out of the cake-frosting material called fondant dyed in bright primary colors.
Other entries this year include a gingerbread lighthouse, one made of tin, one made of green plastic soda bottles, a lighthouse that celebrates the children’s board game Candy Land, and a World Series lighthouse set in a baseball stadium. Four entries were built by students at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, for their “Senior Introduction to Engineering” class.
Entries have arrived from residents of cities close to the Aquarium — Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport — but also from as far as Ansonia and Shelton in Connecticut and Hartsdale and Wappingers Falls in New York.
In addition to the $1,500 top award, other prizes are $750 for second place, $375 for third; $300 for fourth; $225 for fifth; and $150 for sixth. Winners will be announced at an evening reception on January 23.
A Contest Within A Contest
“Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Lighthouse” has inspired the Maritime Aquarium staff to offer a Facebook challenge to guess how many calories Ms Ball’s creation contains. While the Festival of Lighthouses Contest exhibit runs until late January, the public only has until noon on Thursday, November 21 to check out Ms Ball’s lighthouse and enter a calories guess at www.facebook.com/maritime.aquarium. Guesses need to be made on the aquarium's Facebook page.
The person who guesses closest to the lighthouse’s calorie count without going over will win a family four-pack of tickets to The Maritime Aquarium, a $65.80 value. See another image of the lighthouse and the full contest rules on the Aquarium Facebook page, or on its website, www.maritimeaquarium.org.
The Maritime Aquarium is at 10 North Water Street. General admission is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for ages 13-17 & seniors (age 65+), and $12.95 for children ages 3-12.
The aquarium is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm. For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, IMAX movies and programs, call 203-852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org.