With help from some generous donation elves, the Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation will be adding a little Christmas cheer to the town's waterfront this season. Lighted garlands and bows will be strung around the Choptank River Lighthouse for the first time.
The decor is expected to be up and running immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday.
"This project is all about bringing smiles, beauty and a sense of pride to our Dorchester County community in these precarious times," said Nancy Johnson, the incoming president of the board at the nonprofit foundation. "We've really been overwhelmed by the way our partners here jumped in to back this concept and make it a reality."
The first supporter to get behind "Christmas at the Lighthouse" was PNC Bank, through its community affairs initiative. This is the bank's second big charitable initiative in Cambridge this year, as PNC was the lead sponsor in a major mural project on the Chesapeake College building in downtown Cambridge.
Crescent Cities Charities came on board next. Based in Prince George's County, the organization supports an array of educational and charitable endeavors in the Washington, D.C. area. Paul Baiers, the owner of Paul's Deli at the Creek in Cambridge, spurred the creation in recent years of a "satellite" Crescent Cities operation that supports the work of community nonprofits on the Eastern Shore.
"The volunteers at the Lighthouse have done a great job promoting tourism and economic development," Baiers said. "We saw this application from the foundation as a way to help them build on that success and keep the momentum going, while at the time spreading some civic cheer and goodwill for the holiday season."
Another key supporter is American Legion Post No. 91. The Legion delivered the donation that enabled the foundation to upgrade to top-of-the-line commercial-grade decor in an effort to make sure the new holiday lights continue to shine at the lighthouse for many years to come.
The coordinator for the project is Tom Hutchinson of Hutchinson Home Services. Hutchinson is well known in Dorchester County as a maestro of holiday decor, both at his own home and during his time several years back on the board of the nonprofit Cambridge Main Street (now known as Downtown Cambridge, Inc.).
"It's been such a blessing to find someone as generous and community-minded as Tom to lead this project on a volunteer basis," said Cassie Burton, the outgoing president of the foundation board. "He jumped in with both feet, planning the design, shopping for products and placing orders. He'll lead the installation crew as well. He's been on it from start to finish here."
Installation of the lights is tentatively slated for the days before Thanksgiving. If all goes according to plan, look for "Christmas at the Lighthouse" to go live after the holiday.
In addition to taking on special projects like this, the foundation promotes the lighthouse and manages the visitor experience by staffing the museum inside with volunteers, arranging special exhibits, leading tours and other activities. The lighthouse, located at Long Wharf Park, is open daily between May 1 and Oct. 31.