Sodus Bay Lighthouse 2020 Season Is Canceled May 04 2020, 0 Comments

A Message from Our Museum Director Regarding COVID-19 and Our 2020 Season

Dear Friends:
I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.  These are challenging times filled with uncertainty; COVID-19 has completely changed our world. 

The safety of our members, visitors, volunteers, and staff is our utmost concern.  We don’t know what the future will look like, but social distancing and strict hygiene standards will likely be with us for quite some time.  Realistically, the exhibition rooms in our museum do not provide for safe distancing.  Our outdoor events would run into similar problems, particularly our concession stand and restroom facilities. 

With this in mind and for the safety of all, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 season at the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum.  The museum will not be open to the public this year, and all events scheduled to be held at the museum will be canceled or rescheduled to the 2021 season. 

This doesn’t mean that nothing will be happening at the lighthouse.  We will continue to cultivate our beautiful flower gardens, protect and preserve our historic lighthouse building, and maintain our grounds.  We are a perfect location for a stroll if you are engaging in safe outdoor exercise.  I will be improving the museum’s exhibition space and expanding the catalog of the museum’s collection.  I plan to develop educational resources to share electronically—as videos or downloads through our website.  Tom Lightfoot and Rosa Fox will complete the next issue of the Sodus Bay Historical Society’s newsletter; look for it in your e-mail inbox very soon.  

The administrative work of the lighthouse will continue as well, including government reports, grant applications, member communications, and appeals for donations.  Now more than ever we need your financial support.  Like everyone else on Sodus Bay, we suffered through two years of flooding and the resulting decrease in tourism to our area, which took a financial toll in 2017 and 2019; we were looking forward to a great season at the lighthouse in 2020 to help us recover. 

Our customary annual operating budget is just under $150,000; however, we have been operating under an austerity budget since March.  We received a small amount of funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) administered by the Small Business Administration, but it is far from enough to offset our loss of income.  We—along with all other cultural organizations in the U.S.—are looking for grants, but dollars are scarce.

Memberships, sponsorships, and donations are critical and typically cover about 40% of our annual operating budget.  The rest is realized only when we are able to: 

  • collect admissions and donations from museum visitors;
  • provide concessions and “pass the hat” to concertgoers;
  • sell souvenirs and gifts in our museum store;
  • host wedding ceremonies;
  • hold our Lighthouse 5-K Run, Art & Craft Show, and Breakfast on the Bluff as part of our annual Independence Extravaganza.

The modest profits we realize from our activities make it possible for us to operate.  We will not have those sources of income in 2020.

So how can you help?  In small ways and large ways. 

When shopping on Amazon, start at instead, and choose to support the Sodus Bay Historical Society.  When you do this, Amazon donates a percentage of your purchase to us, costing you nothing!  CLICK HERE to directly access AmazonSmile; bookmark the page so you can start shopping there every time.

No-bake Bake Sale
Support us directly by purchasing some virtual goodies at our first No-bake Bake Sale.  I’ve heard from several people that during the quarantine, they have been baking up a storm—cookies, cakes, and lots of bread.  With gyms, swimming pools, tennis clubs, and golf courses closed, how can we hope to work off all those extra calories?  By not eating them in the first place!  Here’s how our No-bake Bake Sale works:  visit our website and select your goodies:  cookies, cupcakes, croissants, layer cake, or the whole bakery.  Check out online through our secure site using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, or ApplePay.  And we promise—we will not send you any goodies.  Your purchase will be a tax-deductible donation to the Sodus Bay Historical Society to help us keep our light shining.  CLICK HERE to donate by “buying” some no-bake goodies right now!

Thank a Healthcare Worker on #GivingTuesdayNow
To recognize the amazing work being done by our healthcare professionals, for every donation made through our website on Tuesday, May 5, which is #GivingTuesdayNow, we will present a gift membership to the lighthouse in your name to a healthcare provider in our region.  This is a great way for you to support us and to help us recognize the great job these selfless people are doing during this crisis—and throughout the year—and thank them for their tireless work.  CLICK HERE to donate.

If you are a member, you can renew your membership early; we will extend your current membership by a year.  You may also upgrade your membership to a higher level of support, and if you’ve ever thought about becoming a Life Member ($1,000), now is the time!  If you are not a member, we encourage you to join us today.  Annual memberships begin at just $40 for a household.  CLICK HERE for additional information about membership opportunities and benefits.

Stimulus Check
Many of us are receiving a stimulus check which was authorized by Congress in the CARES Act.  If you are able to, please consider donating some or all of that amount to the Sodus Bay Historical Society.  Helping us pay our bills is in the spirit of the stimulus act.  CLICK HERE for a mail-in donation reply form.

Shop in our Online Museum Store
Our online museum store is still up and running.  You can shop for souvenirs, books, and gifts.  Please note that there is a delay in shipping, since orders are sent out just once per week.  CLICK HERE to visit our online store.

Working at a lighthouse has taught me that we will weather this storm.  For millennia, lighthouses have guided ships to safe harbors through perilous storms.  The Sodus Bay Lighthouse has been serving as a cultural beacon for our region for 35 years.  Our educational programs, Independence Extravaganza, and popular Summer Concert Series have been the heartbeat of the Sodus Bay area for more than a generation.  I remember a comment made by a longtime member at our 2013 annual meeting:  “The lighthouse IS Sodus Bay.”  Our light will keep shining brightly!

I have also learned of the generosity of our community.  Our light will continue to shine because of you.  We have grown every year because of you.  Now, we need your financial support more than ever.  All amounts are appreciated and will help us bounce back stronger than before.  I am truly humbled every year at the outpouring of generosity from our fantastic supporters. 

Although COVID-19 has interrupted our way of life, the pause has also caused us all to slow down, offering us a time of reflection on what is truly important.  Thank you so much for entrusting me with the preservation of our historic lighthouse and for journeying together into our future.  Together we are stronger.  Thank you for helping us keep our light shining brightly during these dark days and thank you for your support.  Feel free to contact me by e-mail ( if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions. 

Stay safe and healthy.  I look forward to seeing you at the lighthouse when we are able to gather together once again.

Joseph O'Toole
Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum Director