The final countdown to the Stepping Stones Lighthouse race

The final countdown to the Stepping Stones Lighthouse race
Stepping Stones Lighthouse, as seen from Steppingstone Park, where a race to raise awareness and money for its repairs started and ended. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

In the final countdown to the inaugural Stepping Stones Lighthouse race, the Great Neck Historical Society hopes that all hands will be on deck.

Charles Schneider, the chair of the historical society’s subcommittee about the race, said that they have secured at least 25 business sponsors and that EventPower, a group helping manage the race, is “very pleased with the numbers.”

“We’re proceeding very nicely,” Schneider said.

And events like these, he added, tend to see a lot of literally last minute sign-ups too.

“A 5K has a lot of people registering as you get very close,” Schneider said, noting that nice weather can spur someone into participating.

The Great Neck Historical Society first announced the run, which is co-hosted with the Town of North Hempstead and Great Neck Parks District, back in June. It is part of a larger effort between the historical group, town and district to help the ailing lighthouse.

The race primarily aims to raise awareness about the lighthouse and the need to repair it, organizers previously said.

Police from the local and county levels will be coordinating security for the race, which will take walkers and runners around Kings Point Park along some major streets. (Photo courtesy of the Kings Point Police Department)

The race, beginning and ending at Steppingstone Park, will take walkers and runners around Kings Point Park along some major streets like Steamboat Road, Redbrook Road, Kings Point Road and West Shore Road. Local and county police will be coordinating security.

Schneider said that a litany of organizations plan to contribute. Many students and parents at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, for example, expressed interest in participating.

In addition to contributing off-site parking, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy might also have some of its own involved in the race.

“The Kings Point cadets are volunteering and also participating, so we are getting lots of great interest,” Schneider said.

The race officially begins at 9:00 a.m., with check-ins occurring from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Afterward, at 10:05 a.m., there will be an awards ceremony to award the top overall racers in a variety of age and gender-based categories. Each participant will get a t-shirt with a list of lighthouse sponsors regardless.

There will also be a DJ, food, fruit and water for the participants.

Schneider said that this event, should all go according to plan, will only be the first of many. He said he hopes it will become a part of the town’s culture, much like the Gold Coast International Festival.

“We’re excited that this is going to be the first of many future races, much like some of the other lighthouse organizations,” Schneider said.

The lighthouse guided sailors through rocky waters since 1877 and stood over the Long Island Sound, being visible from Steppingstone Park in Kings Point.

With the interior essentially gutted and many windows, rooms and brickwork in need of repairs, officials previously estimated it could cost millions.

In the last few months, both the Town of North Hempstead and Great Neck Historical Society sent engineering architects to examine the lighthouse foundations so a dock could be put in.

The Town of North Hempstead also allocated $520,000 in its 2017-21 capital plan toward the lighthouse and construction of the dock.

This is on top of a $165,000 National Park Service grant to the Town of North Hempstead, a $100,000 New York State Assembly grant and a $100,000 grant to the Great Neck Park District.

Interested racers can sign up on the online event page for $25 or for $30 on race day. Awards will go to the top three racers for men and women, respectively, and the top racers within certain age groups.

“Once it’s gone, we lose that piece of history,” Kasten said in a previous interview, noting that the lighthouse was an important piece of the region’s early economic development. “We are rapidly destroying the remnants of history on this peninsula.”

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