Under a steady downpour on Tuesday, the Gay Head Light resumed its watch over Vineyard Sound and the waters off Aquinnah. A large crowd gathered in Aquinnah Circle, peering up from under their umbrellas and hoods to witness the end of the lighthouse’s longest period of darkness since 1856.
Almost as soon as it was possible to set up a movie camera on Martha’s Vineyard, filmmakers were heading out to Aquinnah to shoot the swirling, mottled escarpment of clays and tills and Irish-green heathland that make up the Gay Head Cliffs.
Following 118 days of darkness, the Gay Head Light will shine again on Tuesday, August 11. Lighthouse committee member Paula Eisenberg said the relighting would take place promptly at 6 p.m., and the public is invited to attend the ceremony and a celebration afterward.
Richard Skidmore and Joan LeLacheur, keepers of the Gay Head Light, have lived by the particular rhythms of the Gay Head Light for 25 years, tending to its mishaps and arranging countless visits with people from around the world.
With the summer season picking up, managers for the Gay Head Light relocation project hope to have the site mostly restored by the Fourth of July. About half the excavated soil has been returned to the site and a new concrete-block foundation is nearly complete.
The town of Aquinnah will seek a cultural designation for the area around Aquinnah Circle, including the Gay Head Light, from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which promotes arts, sciences and humanities in the state.
The Gay Head Light relocation project continues, with a foundation of concrete blocks slowly rising around a gridwork of steel beams that supports the 400-ton structure. On May 30, the lighthouse was moved inland from the eroding cliffs.