By Sheri ArbitalJacoby
The day could not have been more perfect for a trip to Stepping Stones Lighthouse. To raise awareness and hopefully funds, the Great Neck Historical Society, Great Neck Park District and Town of North Hempstead invited those who have been helping with these efforts to restore the Lighthouse, as well as members of the community who are interested in joining the cause, to take a boat trip from the dock at Steppingstone Park on Thursday, Oct. 14, to get a close-up view.
As legend has it, back in the 1600s, the devil came down from Connecticut, which angered the Native American inhabitants on Long Island. The Native Americans chased the devil out, but as he tried to get away, he threw boulders over his shoulder to stop the Native Americans from catching him. While trying to escape, the devil supposedly built a path of stepping stones—like a mountain range under Long Island Sound—to get away, according to Ronald B. Brinn, who’s on the Town of North Hempstead Committee to Restore Stepping Stones Lighthouse.
The Lighthouse was built to help ships navigate around these treacherous boulders and was critical in helping prevent vessels from being destroyed.
Students from John F. Kennedy Elementary School have adopted Stepping Stones Lighthouse. The children are trying to raise community support—and raised almost $1,000, one penny at a time, through their penny pot. The students have also competed in an essay contest, built replicas and wrote poems and songs to raise awareness, according to Principal Ronald Gimondo and Assistant Principal Kathleen Murray, who brought along a few of the models.
Park Commissioner Robert Lincoln spoke about the project and explained that when the Lighthouse was built in the 1870s, they didn’t have the construction equipment we have today and that each stone was placed by hand.
Brinn said that they’ve gotten word from the Town of North Hempstead that there’s been approval for the engineers to access the structure. Divers will determine the stability of the foundation.
In an effort to restore the Lighthouse, Great Neck school children will learn about this history because, “If you don’t have a past how will you have a future?” explained Brinn.
Learn more about its history, the families who lived in the Lighthouse and plans for its future in this article from Great Neck Magazine, which was included in the Oct. 28 issue of the Great Neck Record.