BEARS ham radio operators participate in lighthouse event

The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend is planned Saturday and Sunday at the Everett S. Berry Memorial Lighthouse Park. Demonstrations and displays by amateur radio operators will highlight the event.
(The Daily Review Photo by Crystal Thielepape)

Berwick will celebrate a new event this weekend when the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend will be held at the Everett S. Berry Memorial Lighthouse Park.
Ham radio operators will be featured at the event.
There are 483 lighthouses and lightships worldwide entered in the event, Jackie Price, president of Bayouland Emergency Amateur Radio Service, said.
“If we can speak to 50 of them throughout the world, we will be overjoyed,” Price said during Tuesday’s Berwick Town Council meeting.
The ham radio portion of the event is open to the public the entire time of operation, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
BEARS is “a ham radio club, but our purpose is to provide emergency help and communication at any time,” Price said.
The lighthouse event organizer is Kevin Mulcahy, call sign VK2CE, of Australia who “has been very helpful to us and helped us obtain a registration number for our light, which is US0176. This is a way to publicize your light but to also encourage preservation of the various structures worldwide,” Price said in an email.
Volunteer Jacki Ackel said during the council meeting this is a way to publicize Berwick.
“During that contact, they will tell about our town, our lighthouse, our people and in turn we will learn about theirs,” Ackel said, adding “So, promoting Berwick around the world, to me, is a really big thing. It would not be possible without a lighthouse,” Ackel said.
BEARS is dedicating its first radio broadcast from the lighthouse to a deceased member, Ray Rasberry, WB5LKR.
Price said Rasberry was an active member of BEARS and was instrumental in helping establish the groundwork of the present radio room. He also served as a Berwick councilman and Berwick fire chief.
“Because of Ray’s involvement, we felt it was very fitting for our club to dedicate the first broadcast from the lighthouse to Ray,” Price said.
In addition to the amateur radio contact event, featuring both worldwide and U.S. “now talking to” maps, a tent will be provided by Sheriff Mark Hebert to house various pamphlets for the public.
Price said those include how to become a ham operator, how to contact a ham when you evacuate and worldwide activity displays by BEARS members.
Included in the displays is “Making Friends Worldwide through Ham Radio.” Pictures and items from Pitcairn Island made by Meralda Warren, VP6MW, and her mother Mavis will be on display. The Pitcairn Islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A British Overseas Territory, Pitcairn Island is roughly 1,350 miles east south-east of Tahiti and just over 4,100 miles from Panama. The Islands’ administrative headquarters are situated in Auckland, New Zealand, 3,300 miles away. It is populated by descendants of the mutineers of HMAV Bounty and their Tahitian companions.
Additionally, pictures of P.K. Chin, 9M2CW, from Ipoh, Malaysia, and his family, as well as the famous Ipoh “white” coffee will be out for visitors to see. “We’re hopeful that 9M2CW will be able to call us from Malaysia,” Price added.
Karen Marshall, KE5RPI, a BEARS member, will have on display an album she has assembled after attending a worldwide convention of female ham operators held in Australia by the Young Ladies organization.
The Berwick Volunteer Fire Department will sell cold drinks with proceeds to benefit their department, while Frank’s famous burger, onions and fries will be sold benefitting the BEARS.
Simply Cajun Sno Cones will be serving snowballs to anyone wishing to cool off.
The Berwick Town Market will be holding an extra market show on the Saturday of the event. Attendees will be able to peruse nearly 20 vendors providing anything from crafts to home-grown vegetables.
Homeland Security and the Berwick Police Department will have displays at the event.
There are other activities leading up to and during the event. The Berwick branch of the St. Mary Parish Library established a display of ham radio items of interest which will be on display for the month of August.
Children from Berwick Elementary and various daycare centers in Berwick are participating in a coloring contest also. Price said the sheet is a bear with a ham radio standing by the Southwest Reef Lighthouse.
The children will bring their finished coloring sheets to the lighthouse Saturday. There, they will be put on display, and judging by the family of the late Everett S. Berry will take place Sunday, Price said. Each first-place winner in the age categories will be given a frame for their winning pieces.
Background information on the worldwide event can be found at www.ILLW.net.

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jmccorkle@daily-review.com

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