Dedicated group gets Oak Orchard Lighthouse ready for new season

Posted 26 May 2023 at 7:36 am

Photo by Claire Squicciarini: Pictured from left include members of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse board of directors: Larry Grimes, Dawn Squicciarini, Chris Manaseri, Holly Manaseri and Ken Martin. They worked on cleaning up the grounds this past Sunday.

By Claire Squicciarini, correspondent

POINT BREEZE – After a busy cleanup day on Sunday, the Oak Orchard Lighthouse is ready to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend beginning today.

The lighthouse will remain open from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend.

The lighthouse at Point Breeze is an interpretation of history and an important part to the region’s heritage. The original Lighthouse stood before what is now the break wall until it was blown over in 1916.

In 2000 the replica project was started by Richard Anderson amongst others in the community. By 2010 the project raised enough money to build the lighthouse we have today.

Richard Anderson was my grandfather who sadly passed away Oct. 3, 2022. He was a major advocate for the lighthouse and put in countless hours for the replica project, raising money and serving as a docent. He convinced his grandchildren, including me, to be in many plays, parades and other fundraisers for the lighthouse.

“He was the personification of the place for decades,” said Chris Manaseri, current board president of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse.

This photo from May 2010 shows Richard Anderson at an event with his grandchildren celebrating the Oak Orchard Lighthouse. From left include Richard’s wife Donna Anderson, Michelle Squicciarini Beterbiyev, Richard Anderson, Elizabeth Elkins, Jacob Squicciarini, Claire Squicciarini and Abigail Squicciarini.

My grandfather was the keeper of the light for many years. Almost every time we came down to see the lighthouse, grandpa would be sitting there with his dog Dixie ready to tell you the history of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse. I am proud to say Richard Anderson was my grandpa.

The lighthouse board now maintains and promotes the lighthouse with weddings, school trips, and many other activities. The members of the board include board president Chris Manaseri, Holly Manaseri, Ken Martin, Anne Martin and Dawn Squicciarini (daughter of Richard Anderson). Larry Grimes and other docents also are dedicated to being at the site.

If you want to learn more about the lighthouse, you can hear all about if from one of these members while climbing to the top for an amazing view. They also have a gift shop at the bottom of the lighthouse and the Children’s Peace Garden on the east side with a donations box – all proceeds go to the lighthouse.

“We are looking for opportunities for grants to do what Richard wanted for the lighthouse,” Manaseri said.

The board is working on fundraisers this year, including a dinner on Aug. 19 with author Susan Gateley, who has written several books about Lake Ontario.

So, if you are looking for something to do this summer come up and visit a part of history at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse.

(Editor’s Note: Claire Squicciarini is going into her junior year at Alfred University. She is a communications major with minors in film studies and social justice studies. She is the granddaughter of the late Richard Anderson who was influential in getting the lighthouse built in 2010.)