11-year old Maine Girl Turns Lighthouse Project into Winning Raffle Ticket

North Haven, Maine, September , 2010 -- Elsie Parrot, 11, of Gorham, Maine is one lucky girl.  In the summer of 2009, she was sailing with her parents through the Fox Island Thorofare when she spotted Goose Rocks Lighthouse off of the island of North Haven.  "Look, Dad!" she said to her father, pointing to the Adirondack chairs and Weber grill on the deck of Goose Rocks.  "People live there! That's so cool!   I wonder if we could visit?" Back on dry land, parents Steve and Nancy helped Elsie research Goose Rocks Light, discovering that it is owned by the nonprofit organization Beacon Preservation, and that its supporters can indeed enjoy visits to Goose Rocks.  Elsie insisted she wanted to enjoy her 11th birthday with a slumber party at Goose Rocks, and so invited three of her best friends for an unique overnight stay.

"That was the first time we had keepers sail up to Goose Rocks for their stay!" recalled Casey Jordan, president of Beacon.  "For safety reasons, we don't usually allow children, but after chatting with Steve and hearing that Elsie and her friends were well-behaved sailing kids and would respect the dangers of an offshore lighthouse and follow rules of water safety, we decided to make an exception.  The girls were adorable, and so excited to explore a lighthouse.  I really admired Elsie's maturity for wanting to spend her birthday at Goose Rocks instead of, say, an amusement park."

Elsie and her friends had such a great experience in September 2009, a perfect kick-off to their 5th grade school year.  In the spring of 2010, Elsie had to undertake a comprehensive project for school, and after pondering her interests, she proposed a project called "A Lighthouse-less Maine."  Elsie would research Maine's most popular lighthouses, and using computer software, she "photo-shop" a picture of each lighthouse to obliterate it from the scene and show how the world would be without them.  The purpose was to graphically demonstrate how important lighthouses are, not only to the beauty of our landscape, but also our maritime history, culture, and navigational safety.

Elsie contacted Casey Jordan in April and asked if she could interview her in person about the challenges of lighthouse preservation.  Jordan was astonished to learn that Elsie had to do the interview in person--but her dad insisted they were willing to make the five hour drive to Beacon's headquarters in Ansonia, Connecticut.  On a sunny Saturday in May, Elsie and Steve drove to Connecticut for the interview, where Elsie heard not only about the history of Goose Rocks, but also learned about another Beacon lighthouse:  Penfield Reef Light.  After gathering all the information for her project, Elsie and Steve took a 20-minute drive to Fairfield, Connecticut, where they joined Beacon staff members for a walk out to the Penfield Reef Lighthouse. Elsie was impressed by how different the construction of Penfield Light is from Goose Rocks, and enjoyed seeing it up-close before heading back to Maine.

Elsie's photo-book project, "A Lighthouse-less Maine," features striking before-and-after pictures of Maine coastline with its famous lighthouses (including Goose Rocks), and then a page without the lighthouse, to show how tragic the loss of a lighthouse would be. In June, she sent a copy of the book to Beacon, along with a donation of $40 that she raised with her friends as part of her service-learning project. 

Jordan was so impressed with the project and touched by Elsie's donation, that she applied the $40 toward the purchase of two Labor Day Weekend "Stay at Goose Rocks" raffle tickets and sent them to the Parrot family. In August, the winning ticket was drawn—and the winner was the Parrots! 

In September 2010, Elsie came back to Goose Rocks with her parents and three friends to enjoy a stay as our Grand Prize Goose Rocks raffle winner.  When she went to sign the guest book, Elsie re-read her entry from her first visit and realized it was exactly the same date that  she had visited in 2009!  

Beacon has enjoyed getting to know Elsie Parrot, and to see her grow as a student and give back to the community during the past year.  We hope that the Parrot family will now make a September visit to Goose Rocks an annual tradition for Elsie's birthday, and we invite all of our supporters to consider a stay at Goose Rocks.

Elsie already knows that a landscape without lighthouses is like a world without light, and we should all keep the beacons of Goose Rocks and Penfield Reef Light burning bright by promoting lighthouse preservation.   Thanks to Elsie and her family for their continued interest and support!

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