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Two Lighthouses Rise in Landlocked Wilton

WILTON, Conn. – The Sean and Ivy Keating family of Wilton has been busy lately constructing a lighthouse. Not a real lighthouse – as if Wilton needs one – but a model to enter in this year's 10th Annual “Festival of Lighthouses” at the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The mini aid to navigation, dubbed “Mermaid Hollow,” sets a traditional white lighthouse on a rocky shoreline. It is first time the Keatings have entered the contest. 

But the competition is nothing new for Wilton's Rooney family. This year, 14-year-old Brendan is the official entrant with a five-sided, clear-acrylic structure covered with hundreds of blue and green beads and glows. Appropriately enough, it's called "Beads of Light." 

“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.”

The two Wilton entries are among 24 in the holiday display, which is open daily and free with aquarium admission from Saturday, Nov. 19, through Jan. 16.

Visitors get to vote on their favorite lighthouses, and the winner will receive $1,500, a 50 percent increase from last year because it's the 10th anniversary.

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. They cannot include animal remains (including shells). Beyond that, it’s up to the creators’ imaginations.

Winners will be announced at an evening reception Jan. 19.

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