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Lighthouse beacon will shine

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OGDENSBURG — It was exciting enough for the Roethel family last October when the night beacon of the 1834 lighthouse on their homestead was reactivated by the U.S. Coast Guard for the first time since it was decommissioned by the federal government in the early 1960s.

But the halogen beam would shine nightly for maritime traffic for only a month more until the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season shut down for the winter. With the 2012 season opening last week, the beacon will shine on right through to mid-November.

Laurel Lee Roethel said the beacon is good to go.

“We tested the light last week,” she said. “We’re good.”

Once the Coast Guard gives approval, the Roethel family will be able to turn the beacon on every night from mid-April or sooner until November.

Ms. Roethel said an entire spring, summer and fall of being able to see the lighthouse beacon at night will be special.

“It’ll be nice, so people can look across and see the light again,” she said.

The switch to turn the beacon on will be flipped by Ms. Roethel’s brother, Blair T. Roethel, who lives in the house that is attached to the 70-foot-high lighthouse.

The October reactivation was a heavily attended and much-celebrated community event. Ms. Roethel said she expects no big spectacle this time. But it won’t be ignored altogether: the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, based in Michigan, will bring a group of lighthouse enthusiasts to Ogdensburg to watch the beacon getting switched on again.

The group visited a few years ago on a tour of lighthouses and loved what they saw.

“There were two bus loads,” Ms. Roethel said. “They came from Hawaii. They came from Florida.”

Like the October reactivation, the beacon’s return will be of considerable sentimental value. Ms. Roethel’s father, the late Thomas G. Roethel, bought the property in 1964 as a summer home for the family.

And, his daughter recalled Friday, he loved lighthouses.

“It was his dream to light the light,” Ms. Roethel said. “He used to say it was like a smile on the river.”

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