Lighthouse Museum hosting haunted event to highlight local Lake Ontario shipwrecks

File photo by Tom Rivers: A volunteer kept the Oak Orchard Lighthouse open on the evening of June 23, 2022 for people to climb to the top and learn about information at Point Breeze. The 35-foot lighthouse is a replica to one that toppled in 1916 after a storm.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 13 October 2023 at 9:22 am

POINT BREEZE – The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum will celebrate its second haunting on Oct. 20 and 21.

The project was first suggested last year by board member Anne Martin to raise funds for continued operation of the lighthouse, and it was a big success, according to Lighthouse Museum board president Chris Manaseri.

“Anne has done her homework to investigate more about some of the local shipwrecks on Lake Ontario over the years, and has constructed a short story featuring the widow of a lost crew member on a steamboat that sank near Point Breeze,” Manaseri said.

Martin portrays the lost sailor’s widow in narrating the story to visitors. A few other board members also play roles to make the story come to life, Manaseri said.

“She’s done a very clever job of incorporating actual local history with the lighthouse and the ‘spirit’ of Halloween, spiced with a little humor as well,” he said. “It’s actually one more creative way to interpret local history through the lighthouse, one of the major missions in which we are involved. We wanted to create a safe venue where families with young children could do something together in the community around Halloween.”

Martin said she knew the Lighthouse board was looking for a new fundraiser and she thought it might be a creative way to drum up donations and, of course, more interest in the little neighborhood lighthouse.

“I read Jim Kennard’s book Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario and found it so fascinating,” Martin said. “I found the wreck of the Samuel F. Hodge and the Ontario, both located just off Point Breeze. I have some community theater experience and put it to use creating the story line and acting. I’m also a self-confessed Halloween freak and used to decorate my home in Indiana for Halloween prior to our move here three years ago, so I had a lot of Halloween decorations just sitting in my attic. We have no trick or treating in our isolated neighborhood, so this was a terrific outlet for me on both counts.”

Martin plays the role of the wife of Martin Deeley, the only fatality on the Samuel F. Hodge,  and the commander of the Ontario, where all 120 lives were lost. She also gives a nod to the original lighthouse keeper, John Kelly.

“My character Eileen Deeley, is creative license, but the stories I tell to visitors about the three gentlemen are historically accurate,” Martin said. “And I do work a sighting of the Lake Ontario serpent into the story, which was also creative license.”

The event is free, but donations will be accepted.

Cider and donuts will be offered and the lighthouse will be open from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

“This gives the lighthouse one last hurrah for donation opportunities before we close it for the winter,” Manaseri said.

He said they will have a large tent to protect visitors against rain or wind, which can be brisk at Point Breeze. They keep the event to the early hours for young children and families.