The Currys’ bass player, Galen Curry, performs with the band under the glow of one of the many lanterns. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Crooked River shows off new playground stage pirate ship

Hanging lanterns cast a colorful glow over the Crooked River Lighthouse Nov. 11 for Lantern Fest, held each year in honor of the lighthouse’s birthday, now over 127 years old.

None more impressive in that mystic light was the enormous wooden boat that will serve as the new sound stage and playground.

The lighthouse grounds had once featured a playground area that weaved through the wooden ship Carrabella, but that structure burned down on Mother’s Day 2015.

Amelie Cannon, 11, and sister Juliette, 10, at right, were the youngest Lantern Ladies at Lantern Fest. Joan Matey and her fellow seamstresses repurposed old Christmas bags and flexible foam packing materials to make the Cannon sisters’ dresses, lit by a battery pack hidden in back, and their parasols. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Since that time, Steve Allen, president of the Carrabelle Lighthouse Association, has spearheaded a drive to raise tens of thousands of dollars, in both private and public monies, to rebuild the ship.

But Allen, trained as an architect, went further in the design, and incorporated a state-of-the-art sound stage into the design.

At Lantern Fest, The Currys from Gulf County served up their smooth assortment of original folk-rock, with brothers Tommy and Jimmy Curry on vocals and guitar, and cousin Galen Curry on vocals and bass.

“It’s the first of many events we’ll have where we’ll have this venue,” said Allen. He said he foresees that people from around the region can hold events there, including weddings.

“Every month we have a concert for full moon events,” he said. “I think there are a lot of people who want to play on it, it’s a pretty cool stage.”

Blacksmiths Chris Cauthen, front, and John Pfund demonstrated the traditional trade, using chunks of coke to heat the metal in order to shape implements. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

The boat is not yet officially named, but won’t carry the moniker Carrabella. “I call it the Phoenix, because it rose from the ashes,” Allen said.

The Currys delighted the audience with the debut of many of their newest songs, all performed into a new sound system, funded by a grant from the Franklin County Tourist Development Council, built into the permanent stage.

Paula Fagan, lit up for the Lantern Fest. [ Deb | Ritter ]

It’s a state-of-the-art, app-driven system with 32 channels of audio and 10,000 watts worth of speakers, “There are outlets that are meant to power your electric guitar and amp and all that’s wired into it,” Allen said. “I can do recordings on it, a 16-person band can do an orchestra piece.”

Artist Joan Matey always creates a unique lantern for Lantern Fest, and this year went for a table lamp that she made of repurposed glass yogurt containers that can be filled with colored water, and varied in color depending on the mood desired. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

The “boat” itself is 55 feet from tip to stern, adjacent to a “dock” that once it is fully extended, will be connected to the driveway where parents can sit and watch their kids play.

Allen is now at work completing the entire giant pirate ship playground, complete with slides, a wheelhouse helm with a steering wheel, telescopes, rigging, and even a playful “brig, to lock the little bad kids in.”

Plans are to place sloped amphitheater seating that can accommodate 200 people, plus many more who have a sight line to the stage from around the park

Joan Matey, the lighthouse curator, said Lantern Fest drew a comfortable crowd of about 400 people. “This was the first Lantern Fest to include the new Fresnel lens exhibit and science room installed earlier this year,” she said. 

Dr. Haiqiong Deng, an internationally renowned virtuoso on the 21-string Chinese gu-zheng (zheng), performed earlier this month at the Crooked River Lighthouse’s Lantern Fest as part of a program that also included The Currys and dancers from Tallahassee Community College. For a complete look at the magic of Lantern Fest, please see page B1. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

In addition to the Currys, the fest featured performances by the Tallahassee Community College Dancers, who dazzled guests with their imaginative use of glow-in-the-dark props. Master Zheng Player, Dr. Haiqiong Deng, an internationally renowned player of the 21-string Chinese gu-zheng (zheng), returned to Lantern Fest to join the dance company for part of their performance. Ancient crafts demonstrators, including blacksmiths, also shared their talents.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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