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Festival of Lighthouses Through Jan. 21 at Maritime Aquarium

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They’re beautiful. They’re funny. They’re clever. They’re intricate. They’re exquisite. Follow a festive path illuminated by 22 lighthouses – creatively built using everything from yarn and stained glass to coffee-creamer cups and personal computers – during the 11th annual “Festival of Lighthouses” at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

The lighthouses were built by local artists and amateurs looking for a challenge, by families that wanted to work together on a fun project, and by students fulfilling an assignment. Now through Jan. 21, 2013, Aquarium visitors can follow these homemade beacons through the galleries and then cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse that gets the most votes wins $1,500. The display is free with Aquarium admission.

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 (such as shells). Beyond that, it’s up to the creators’ imaginations. The 22 entries include a lighthouse covered in crocheted yarn, a lighthouse with interactive computer animation and a lighthouse that amusingly represents the 12 days of Christmas. (For the partridge in a pear tree, look for a photo of the bus used on TV’s “The Partridge Family.”) There are lighthouses made of intricately cut pieces of stone, of stained glass, of punched tin and of tiny cups of diner coffee creamer.

Two lighthouses are modeled after real lights – the famous West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, ME, and the historic light in Sandy Hook, NJ.   The  Festival of Lighthouses is free with Maritime Aquarium general admission, which is $13.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors (65+) and $10.50 for children 2-12. For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, IMAX movies and programs, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to www.maritimeaquarium.org. For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

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