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Weston Woman Helps Light the Way at Aquarium

WESTON, Conn. – A Weston woman’s creation is helping light the way for visitors at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk as part of the 10th annual “Festival of Lighthouses.”

“A Seuss-sea-n Lighthouse” by Marleine Hofmann is among 24 lighthouses in the holiday display from Nov. 19 to Jan. 16. Aquarium visitors can follow these homemade beacons through the galleries and then cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse with the most votes wins $1,500.

“This is always a highlight of the holidays – for staff and for our visitors,” said Chris Loynd, the aquarium’s marketing director. “We’re always awed at all the thought and effort that the builders put into their lighthouses. And it certainly adds a festive spirit to the galleries.”

Hofmann is new to the contest. Her lighthouse shows a cat-like black arm, holding a lantern and reaching out of a red-and-white hat like Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.”

Other local entries include “Mermaid Hollow” by Ivy Keating of Wilton, “Beads of Light” by the Sean and Kathleen Rooney of Wilton, “Bottoms Up” by Courtenay Austin of Norwalk, “Maritime Carousel 2011” by Paul Coughlan of Norwalk and Nicol Rupolo of Stamford, “If Edison Had Made a Lighthouse” by Shar Landers of Norwalk and  “Good Spirits” by Dana Murray of Norwalk.

Contest rules are kept to a minimum to allow for maximum creativity. Lighthouses must be 3 to 6 feet tall and have a working light, and may not include animal remains, including shells. Beyond that, it’s up to the creators’ imaginations.

“The top five winners last year are all back this year, so you know the bar is set high for workmanship and creativity,” Loynd said. “Plus, to celebrate our milestone 10th year for the display, we’ve upped the ante by increasing all the prize awards by 50 percent.”

Besides the $1,500 top award, other prizes are: $750 for second place, $375 for third; $300 for fourth; $225 for fifth; and $150 for sixth. Winners will be announced at an evening reception Jan. 19.

The 2011 Festival of Lighthouses is part of the aquarium's general admission, which is $12.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors and $9.95 for children ages 2-12.

For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, call 203-852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org .

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