Rocky Johnson – President CCLF

From the new President
Rocky Johnson

I am humbled to accept my new role as President of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation (CCLF), and would be remiss if I didn’t note that Admiral Bob Merrilees’ vision, dedication and work ethic are, and always will be, an immeasurable gift to the CCLF and to the people of Brevard County. If I can be even half the leader he has been, the CCLF will have nothing to worry about!

For a little background, I come from good historical preservation stock, as my parents’ home in Southern Maryland was built in 1686, and appears on the National Register of Historic Places. My wife and I have lived in Brevard County for nearly thirty years, where I have worked in the construction industry, including the aerospace, military, maritime and other “genres,” emphasizing the Design Build and Construction Management contracting methods. We have two wonderful children and two wonderful grandchildren.

My vision for the CCLF is to help the phenomenal people assembled on our Board in carrying the proverbial ball forward. I have seen first-hand the value of sharing cultural, maritime, economic and architectural history with people of all ages and backgrounds, and I very much look forward to continuing that effort with the treasure that is our Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. Like the mariners who depended on the lighthouse for navigation, understanding our history can help us plot our course to an even better future.

A few of my personal goals for the coming year:

• Work with the 45th Space Wing and the CCAFS to ensure continued public access to the lighthouse and grounds.
• Continue to build upon our established tours, now taking place every Friday and Saturday!
• Continue our efforts to rebuild the Keepers’ Cottages, creating museum and educational facilities for our visitors.
• Launch our pilot program in partnership with Brevard County Public Schools to bring the history of our lighthouse into Brevard County Elementary Schools.
• Continue to reach out to our Brevard County partners and residents, sharing the message of the Cape Canaveral Light.
• Encourage continued CCLF Board and volunteer growth.

I sincerely hope that each of you reading this edition of our newsletter will come by and visit us at the Lighthouse or at one of our events. And please do get involved! Our lighthouse and our future depend on good people like you for support!

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Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA)

A Few Words about the Florida Lighthouse Association (FLA)
Bob Merrilees
President, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation

The Florida Lighthouse Association is a nonprofit group of citizen activists dedicated to the preservation of the 30 remaining historic lighthouses that line our state’s 1,350-mile coastline. Once central to the economic growth and settlement of our nation, many of Florida’s lighthouses face uncertain futures. We encourage members of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation to support FLA by joining and attending meetings. For details check out the website at . FLA grants have helped us toward our goals of restoring our Canaveral Lighthouse community as it once was. Recently FLA awarded us a grant of $6,000 for the rental of a trailer to be placed at the lighthouse to house our gift shop and display our Brick Project. We ask you to show your appreciation by joining FLA today!

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Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation Announces Opening of New Gift Shop

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation announced today the new gift shop (Keeper’s Closet) will open December 2.  The Keeper’s Closet is located on the grounds of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.

The Foundation raised funds with a $6,000 grant from the Florida Lighthouse Association and a Go Fund Me campaign in October for the air-conditioned, secure trailer.  The trailer is located adjacent to the lighthouse for convenience for the visitors during their tour of the lighthouse.  In addition to a retail gift shop, the engraved brick paver walkway project will be housed in the trailer.  Visitors will now have an opportunity to select a brick with a design that can be engraved and placed in the walkway surrounding the lighthouse.

“The Foundation was in dire need of a facility to house its Keeper’s Closet because it had outgrown its space on the first floor of the lighthouse.  The Keeper’s Closet and Engraved Brick Paver Walkway Project are the main fundraising efforts for the Lighthouse Foundation,” said CCLF President Bob Merrilees.

The Florida Lighthouse Association, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1996, to promote and preserve Florida’s historic lighthouses.  The FLA’s mission is to safeguard Florida’s remaining lighthouses for future generations by supporting community based restoration, preservation and education efforts.  The FLA receives several grant applications each year, making competition for the funding through the non-profit organization high.  To learn more about the Florida Lighthouse Association, visit

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation, established in 2002, assists the US Air Force 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in preserving, protecting, promoting and interpreting the lighthouse and its historical significance to the Florida Space Coast, State of Florida and Nation.  It is our intent to complete the historical integrity of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Complex by rebuilding the original Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottages.  The Cottages will be designated as a replica home, an education center and an artifact display cottage with gift shop.  We seek sponsors to join us and contribute toward our efforts.

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Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation Membership

A Few Words about CCLF Membership

from Bob Merrilees, President, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation

As I mentioned in our last newsletter, we are making great strides with our tours on Friday and Saturday, each week in educating our community and out-of-town visitors about our lighthouse. The Keeper’s Closet continues to do well. We are working to take the history of our lighthouse and the Cape Canaveral community as it once existed, early settlers and prehistoric inhabitants, into our local schools and will keep you posted on our progress.

I cannot stress enough, how important membership is to our Foundation and we hope you will join our team as members and help us to continue to move forward. Detailed information about membership categories and contact information is on our Membership page or in this month’s Canaveral Beacon. Thanks to our members, volunteers, and sponsors for your continued support.

Lighthouse Tours

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Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation’s Continued Quest

A Few Words from Bob Merrilees
President, Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation continues its quest to rebuild the Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottages and to increase access to the Lighthouse. The Air Force and other regulatory and environmental requirements have been diligently pursued and accomplished, for the most part. Our progress is due to the aggressive and persistent efforts of Ginny Davis, the heart of our Foundation. Now that we are at this pivotal point, funding is the challenge. Our critical need is a decision on how we go about this fundraising and who will lead this effort.

We have so many loyal partners in our corner such as RZK Architects; Hensel Phelps; Robert Elliott, our Air Force point of contact for site plans; as well as our members and volunteers. In the coming year we will be working to strengthen and broaden our Foundation Board in order to move forward toward our goals.
We are still looking for a Newsletter Editor and a Keeper’s Closet Manager and hope one or more volunteers will step up and lend a hand.

The resumption of the Lighthouse tours, which began in January 2016, has been a real boost to our visibility in the community and has resulted in an increased income stream from the Keeper’s Closet at the Lighthouse and occasional donations from SunWard Tours and the community.

We sincerely thank all of you for your continued support.

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Foundation Membership/Volunteer Appreciation Event

On Saturday, June 11, 2016, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation held an event in appreciation of its members and volunteers. The mid-day Bar-B-Q was attended by approximately 65 members and volunteers, as well as a few guests, and was held at the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Station at Port Canaveral.

Vice President Rocky Johnson opened the meeting with a warm welcome, and a brief summary of the vision for the Lighthouse Foundation. He also offered some “food for thought” as he reminded us of the history of the Lighthouse, its importance to mariners, and the vital role it will play in the future — and how we need to nurture that role.
Our President, Bob Merrilees, thanked the Commanding Officer for graciously hosting our event and said a few words about the Foundation, and how much its members and volunteers are appreciated.

Station Commanding Officer, CWO David Ladomirak gave us a brief summary of the responsibilities and capabilities of the USCG Station at Port Canaveral, and attendees were invited to take a tour of the CG Cutter Vigilant, a 210-foot medium endurance cutter, homeported at Port Canaveral since 1990.

Carolyn Burby, recently appointed Volunteer Coordinator for the Lighthouse Foundation, extended a personal thank you to all those who have so willingly and enthusiastically given of their time and talents. She noted, “We appreciate everything you do for us, and I think I can speak for the entire Board when I say that your efforts have not gone unnoticed. None of our goals could be accomplished without you.”

Various door prizes were given out, and attendees were delighted to receive several restaurant gift cards, one-night stays at local hotels, community theatre tickets, tote bags and thermal pouches.

Lunch followed and was catered by Sonny’s BBQ, which provided pulled pork, chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw and baked beans. Chocolate chip cookies were provided by DoubleTree by Hilton Cocoa Beach.

A special finale to the afternoon event was a Delta IV Heavy rocket launch just as attendees were beginning to depart.

Some photos from the event are included in the July Canaveral Beacon newsletter.

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Foundation Appreciation for Local Business Support

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation is grateful for the continued support from the following businesses that provided door prizes for the Membership/Volunteer Appreciation Event:

Andrei’s Restaurant
Baja Chowder & Seafood
Bonefish Grill
Brano’s Italian Grill
CCLF Keeper’s Closet
Cocoa Village Playhouse
Country Inn & Suites
Dixie Crossroads
Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill
Florida’s Fresh Grill
Grills Restaurant
Milliken’s Reef
Port St. John Veterinary Hospital
Radisson at the Port
Rusty’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
Seafood Atlantic
Squid Lips
Therese Roche, Independent Consultant, Thirty One Gifts

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Keeper’s Closet Manager Update

Keeper’s Closet Manager
Our Keeper’s Closet is currently being managed, on an interim basis, by Bev Merrilees. Profits from the Keeper’s Closet continually support the Lighthouse and our goal of rebuilding the keepers homes and the Lighthouse community as it once was. It goes without saying that this is a key volunteer position for our Foundation. Experience in sales/marketing would be helpful. Bev and our Foundation Treasurer, Kathie Underwood, will work with you to transition into the job. We currently have a group of dedicated Keeper’s Closet volunteers. We are trying to expand our community outreach and also have our gift shop open each Friday and Saturday at the Lighthouse from 8:30 am to 10: am to accommodate the newly begun tours. These requirements necessitate more volunteers.

Manager Responsibilities include:

Inventory and document stock
Track items that are sold and back fill as needed Store stock
Price and prepare stock for sale
Recruit, train & schedule volunteers
Work with current manager to discuss current procedures and how they can be more efficient

If you want to help the Foundation in a really substantial way and would like more information about this interesting and challenging job, please get in touch with us at

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10th Annual Lobster Fest A Huge Success

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation ordered perfect weather, delicious lobster and lighthouse enthusiasts, and got it all on February 27.  The guests were welcomed by Channel 13’s Greg Pallone who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.  Also greeting the crowd and thanking the event sponsors was RADM Bob Merrilees, CCLF President.

Col. Eric Krystkowiak, 45th Launch Group Commander, spoke about the partnership between the 45th Space Wing and the Foundation.

Thanks to our major sponsors, this year the event was an overwhelming success.  Appreciation is extended to:  FLORIDA TODAY Communications, Clear Channel Outdoor, Hensel Phelps, SunWard Tours, FPL, GO Travel, RADM Jim Underwood, Port Canaveral, AECOM, Propeller Club of Port Canaveral, National Solar, and Gold Coast Jewelry & Pawn.

After the munching on lobster, the guests were driven to the lighthouse where docents gave guided tours of the historic structure.  They told the story of why the lighthouse is located where it is and about the lighthouse keeper’s and their families.

The Foundation expresses its gratitude to all who attended the 2016 event.

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Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Begins New Tours

If you missed out on a chance to see the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse up close before the Air Force stopped its free tours more than two years ago, you can put it back on your list of things to do in the New Year. It won’t be free, but a new tour is starting Jan. 8. Tours of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse and other sites at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be conducted on Fridays and Saturdays beginning at 8:30 a.m., departing from Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral in air-conditioned buses. The three­-hour tour will cost $27 per person. “In addition to doing the tours, we can now go ahead and do some fundraising,” said Bob Merrilees, president of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. “The lighthouse is very, very popular. When we talk to people they want to get out there to see it.” The foundation had long sought more public access to the lighthouse. But security concerns kept it restricted, and federal budget cuts eliminated the free tour the Air Force had once offered.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, said in a statement that there has always been interest by the public to visit the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Lighthouse, which is why the wing entered into a partnership with the foundation. The foundation provides the tours, and the wing provides the access. “A lack of access to the lighthouse due to the national threat condition was brought to my attention my very first day in command and I promised to do what I could to reopen access to our historic sites while still ensuring the security of the base and our people,” Monteith said. “I’m happy to say that our team, working hand-­in-­hand with the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation and NASA, allowed me to keep that promise.” Visitors will also have access to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station through Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tours. “Additionally, we have partnered with NASA’s Delaware North contractor to provide historic CCAFS tours as a way to allow access to historic sites for folks from around the world who can see where space history began and continues today,” Monteith said.

For years the Air Force offered the tours using its own buses and volunteer tour guides. The free tours, which were conducted Wednesdays and Thursdays, showcased the mission of the 45th Space Wing and focused on the Air Force space program, with visits to several launch complexes, the Air Force Space and Missile Museum and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse. The tours were stopped after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, then reinstated only to be eliminated again. It was in June 2013 when the tours became the victim of federal budget cuts. Sequestration at the time also caused the cancellation of Air Force Thunderbird performances, the suspension of the Tops in Blue entertainment group tour and the unpaid furloughs of Air Force civilian employees.

The foundation has contracted with Sunward Tours to do the lighthouse tours. In addition to the lighthouse, the tours include stops at Air Force Space and Missile History Center and at two historic launch complexes, as well as a drive by others. The tour also includes admission to Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral.

Merrilees, a retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral, said the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse will provide a guide on the bus in addition to one from Sunward Tours, but that the foundation will not make money from the tours. “The tours that we are going to do will be helpful to us because it will give us exposure,” he said. “The Air Force has been very helpful to us.” Buy Photo The 151­foot tall lighthouse is the only fully operational lighthouse owned and operated by the Air Force. The heritage of the lighthouse dates back to before the Civil War. It was 1848 when the original, 60-­foot version was built. Twenty years later, the second, taller lighthouse tower was built. The threat of shoreline erosion prompted the federal government to dismantle the lighthouse and move it about a mile­and­a­half inland in 1894, where it remains today.

The light, which comes on automatically at dark, flashes two times in 4.8 seconds, then is dark for 14.8 seconds before flashing again. It has a visible range of more than 20 miles. Renovations in 2006 ­ needed after hurricanes Frances and Jeanne accelerated the deterioration from age, salt air and leaks ­ were done as part of the preparations to allow more public access to the lighthouse. Now the foundation is preparing to move ahead with fundraising of about $1 million to build replicas of several lighthouse keepers cottages that were on the grounds of the lighthouse. “We now have the authority from the Air Force to go ahead and build,” Merrilees said. “It’s been 13 years in the making.”

If you go:

Cape Canaveral Lighthouse 3­-hour tours Fridays and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. beginning at Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral Tickets are $27 per person.

For ticket and information call SunWard Tours at (321­) 453-­3994. You can make your tour reservations online at

R. Norman Moody, FLORIDA TODAY

The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation sincerely appreciates the continued support of Florida Today in our effort to restore the lighthouse grounds to its historic state.

Additional information can be found on the Lighthouse Tours page.

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