Twenty years ago, when my husband Richard and I started looking for a home, Lighthouse Point seemed like a good bet. It was smack in the middle of our two jobs, on the east side of town, picturesque and family-friendly. As we searched for a house, I remember several realtors telling us the same thing: “Once you move to Lighthouse Point, you won’t ever leave.” At the time, I thought the idea sounded somewhat creepy and a touch reminiscent of the cult classic film “The Stepford Wives.” Flash forward to 2016, and now that I’ve lived in Lighthouse Point for nearly 20 years, I get it. In today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, this little town we all call home is a throwback to a simpler time. Even with magnificent, waterfront mansions and mega-boats, there’s still an “I’d-rather-be-in-flip-flops” attitude. It’s like Mayberry with yachts. You’ll often spot kids on their bikes, fishing rods in tow, out for a simple good time. Head out to eat at any one of our city’s restaurants, and chances are you will see a familiar face. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what makes Lighthouse Point special — which is how we came up with the idea for this feature article. A million different factors give this town its charm. Of course, a million would be too big a task. So, here we give you: 25 things we love
about Lighthouse Point.
Lemonade: a refreshment, a coolant and delicious summer-time beverage, usually sold by children in rinky-dink stands on street corners. Back when I was a boy, I had a monopoly on the Dan Witt area. My family had a lemon tree in the back yard, which provided enormous fruits that were as large as grapefruits. No 8-year old could compete with my low prices and freshly squeezed lemonade. Eventually, the feds showed up and cracked down on my hard-earned, lemonade empire. —Sam Rosser
Pink Church Name Change
Sometimes you have to go with the flow, and that’s exactly what First Presbyterian Church of Pompano Beach did. For years, everyone has used that nickname–The Pink Church—so much so, that many people never knew or could remember the Church’s true name. According to Wendy Hunt, business manager at The Pink Church “We are rebranding ourselves as the Pink Church since that’s what everyone calls us.” The new sign was anonymously donated by a church family.
The Bench at the End of Sample Road
Sample Road stretches from the Everglades in the west, to Lighthouse Point in the east. At the end of the line, right here on the Intracoastal Waterway sits a lone bench. At times you can spot young children with their parents learning to cast a fishing rod, or even a few teenagers finding a quiet place to “chill” and actually speak to each other, in person. On any given day, it’s as if a Norman Rockwell illustration has come to life.
For over 35 years one Lighthouse Point police officer has been there for all of us. He has been there to resolve disputes, to provide comfort in times of need, coordinate our Citizen Observer Patrol, and quite importantly, has had his watchful eye on our parks during youth sporting events watching over our children and keeping them safe. Who is this officer; it is none other than our very own Paul McCormick. Since April 1, 1980, April Fool’s Day, Paul has been on duty to protect and serve the residents of Lighthouse Point.
Why do we love Paul? There are countless reasons. Paul is a friend and confidant to our children, who know they can go to him and ask any question or for help with any problem. When one talks with Paul, he gives you his undivided attention and makes you feel that you are the only person in the room. He listens intently and provides down to earth advice. Paul is also constantly watching and observing and there to help prevent and solve crimes, he is no one’s April Fool! From our parks to our streets, Paul is there to be our friend, confidant and protector.
—Mayor Glenn Troast
A Beacon in the Night
The Hillsboro lighthouse is an icon in our small city of Lighthouse Point. When my family (my parents specifically) uprooted everything I knew and moved a whopping two miles across town, my life flipped upside down. Everything was different. I didn’t know left from right. But the lighthouse kept my bearings in check. When I was wandering the streets as the hoodlum I am, and didn’t know how to get home— the lighthouse brought me home.
Red Solo Cups
The ubiquitous red Solo cup —you’ll spot them at nearly every outdoor event in Lighthouse Point. With what do people fill their cups? We’ll never tell.
Psychedelic Art House on Sample Road
Just east of the Sample Road bridge is a home like no other in our fair city. While coastal contemporary may be the trend du jour, this home stands out. With colorful sculptures and murals, it’s a sight to be seen.
Tuna Wontons at the Nauti Dawg
The tuna wontons at the Nauti Dawg are a star of the menu. Look around on any given evening and you’ll see order after order leaving the kitchen. This appetizer is great to share with friends or it it’s a great alternative for a light meal. Just in case you are one of the few Lighthouse Pointians who has not tried them, the dish is four fried and crispy wonton wrappers topped with seaweed salad, tuna tartare, roasted pepper aioli and wasabi aioli. If you are counting calories, the kitchen will switch out the crispy wonton for a cucumber slice. When you ask people around town to list some of their favorite food items at their favorite local joints (which we did), these tuna wontons are almost always on everyone’s list.
For many years, the Spieker family who own the Lighthouse Point Marina dreamed of developing Tillotson Square. “My father, Don Spieker tried to develop it 15 years, but couldn’t get City approval,” said Maureen Canada, who oversaw the project. “We started meeting with architects to put together our dream. By the time Tillotson Square became reality in 2001, the city gained over $1 million of infrastructure as part of the development agreement. Streets were paved, parking lots added, and electrical lines were installed underground. The 21 units that make up Tillotson Square sold out quickly. The pastel colored townhomes add Caribbean flare to the marina area. Frankly, we’d like to see more homes with this color scheme throughout the city.
Anyone who is anybody has a Lighthouse Point sticker on his or her automobile. I can be driving down Federal Highway, see that sticker and know the operator of that car is a fellow member of the cool kid’s table. We all have a Lighthouse Point sticker on our car if we’re from Lighthouse Point. It’s just what ya’ do.
Nature’s Eye Truck
Who ya gonna call?
You’ve probably seen the Natures Eye truck around town. With it’s Ghostbuster inspired decorations using everything from coconuts to bamboo to pool noodles,
you can’t help but think that these guys must be some creative, over-the-top landscaping gurus.
The Oak Trees Along Lighthouse Drive
It may seem as if the oak trees in town have always been there, just waiting for someone to build a city around them. But in actuality, the town came first and our founding-Lighthouse Point-fathers had the foresight and wisdom to line our main thoroughfare with sprawling oaks. Palm trees may have been the obvious choice. After all, it was the 1950s and South Florida was filling up with northern transplants who no doubt were enamored with the exotic palm. Yet, there is nothing more beautiful about Lighthouse Point than the oak trees along Lighthouse Drive, each tree growing towards their counterpart tree across the street, providing a natural awning for all to enjoy.
Darlene at The Lighthouse Point Yacht & Racquet Club
Our focus group of locals, discussed many staff members at local businesses who serve and support residents. There wasn’t a formal poll but certain names received more praise than others. Diane Nardone just seemed to be loved by everyone. When told of this she responded, “So my quirkiness is finally paying off?” A Chicago native with 30 years in South Florida, Darlene has been serving at the Lighthouse Point Yacht & Racquet Club for three years. She also holds the title as the best female dart player in the Broward County Dart Association. Darts are a passion but children really light her up and she very much enjoys babysitting her grandchild. “I love kids. I guess that’s
why I act like one.”
It’s easy to compare the City’s traffic surveillance system with the Orwellian “Big Brother” of literary fame. The system’s cameras record traffic at every entrance to the city. All vehicle’s license tags are scanned automatically and checked against state records. An alarm alerts officers on duty when a driver with an outstanding warrant has entered the city. Our favorite story involves a local resident who reported his fishing tackle was stolen off his boat. He reported the approximate time of the theft. Officers reviewed the camera footage to see a car with approximately the same number and type of fishing rods protruding from it’s rear window. The car’s tag was researched. Officers were dispatched to the address on record. . . and retrieved the stolen gear from the living room.
Feeding The Fish
There’s most likely a smart phone app where you can feed fish; but kids in Lighthouse Point actually get out from behind their screens, head down to the marina, buy some bait, throw it in the water and watch actual, real, live fish jump for it.
Lighthouse Tree Topper
Lighthouse Point’s twist on the traditional star on top of the Christmas tree, the Lighthouse A ’Glow tree topper is a special tradition for the city at the annual celebration when friends and neighbors gather for outdoor festivities to kick off the holiday season with a concert, a tree lighting ceremony and of course faux snow.
People love to celebrate in this town and they don’t need much of a reason. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Barmuda triangle. In case you are unaware, the “barmuda triangle” consists of the bars at the Lighthouse Point Yacht & Racquet Club, Cap’s Place and to keep it real, Bonefish Mac’s. Of course one is a private club, but why not join? It’s good to keep your options open.
This is perhaps one of the most fun events of the year. Children and adults alike can be found decked out for Halloween at Dan Witt Park. A costume contest, bounce houses, bungee apparatus and much, much more can be enjoyed. It proves that even adults can enjoy getting dressed up with their kids, and some take it seriously for the costume contest.
Library Book Sale
Talk about a book lover’s dream come true, this bi-annual book sale is full of good reading material. The dedicated library staff fills Dixon Ahl Hall to the brim with books, records, DVDs, CDs and more. The best part is Saturday afternoon when the sale is quickly coming to a close. Each person has the opportunity to buy a plastic bag for one dollar and fill it with anything they want. You could fill five bags if you really wanted to and it would still only cost you five bucks. What’s not to love about that?
Library Youth Volunteers
The Lighthouse Point Library Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is open to any student who wants to make a difference and volunteer in Lighthouse Point. The students must be 13 to 18 years of age. Also, the students do not have to be residents of Lighthouse Point. As a member of TAB, I have participated in many projects and community events. Three major community events we participate in include the Halloween Happening, Lighthouse Point A ’Glow and Keeper’s Day. We also partake in multiple arts and crafts projects for decorating the library, kids story time and other library events. I have met wonderful people and loved seeing the impact I had on helping out the library. So, if you are interested in joining or need any more information visit lighthousepointlibrary.com or call the library at 954-946-6398.
Beef Wellington at Le Bistro
Luckily, we don’t have to travel far for a truly decadent meal. Le Bistro’s version of the classic English dish, Beef Wellington is a preparation of sautéed sliced mushrooms, well trimmed filet mignon seasoned and seared, wrapped up and cooked in puff pastry served with a red wine bordelaise sauce and served for two or more. You know what they say: “Sharing is caring.”
Ricardo at Papa’s Raw Bar
Valet parking attendants rarely achieve celebrity status. But Ricardo Ferreira from Papa’s Raw Bar is different. His bright smile and hearty welcome are his trademarks. He never uses paper tickets as he remembers every person, their car and where he parked it. A professional soccer player from Brazil, he knows how to move fast and use space on the field—or parking lot. His many fans don’t know he’s been in the country for 13 years, has been married for 20 and his daughter is studying political science at the University of Florida. “I make people feel special but it comes from my heart,” sums up his great attitude toward his work.
Tom Greene’s Fishing Lure Trick
It’s almost a local rite of passage. All Lighthouse Point children must go to Custom Rod & Reel to have Tom Greene cast a fishing lure at their finger from 30 feet away. Or cast the lure into the mouth of a mounted largemouth bass. Or one of a few other tricks Tom has mastered over the decades. Whichever trick he does, the kids are usually amazed.
Hearts of Palm Salad at Cap’s Place
When your waitress shows up at your table with a giant palm trunk, it becomes abundantly clear that they’re pretty proud of their hearts of palm salad over at Cap’s Place. As well they should be. Most of us have had the canned version. But the difference is similar to that of canned peaches versus grabbing a fresh peach off a tree, biting in and ruining your outfit because peach juice has dribbled down your chin and beyond.
The salad at Cap’s Place is straightforward—the main ingredient is the true star. “An awful lot of people call and ask if we still serve the hearts of palm salad when they call to make their reservation,” says Tom Hasis, owner of Cap’s Place. The question is: can you really call yourself a Floridian if you’ve never had fresh hearts of palm?
Keepers Day Parade
Sure, the casual observer will see marching bands, politicians, boy scouts and service groups walking or riding in sometimes silly ways. Some could say the whole idea is a bunch of nonsense.
Parades are essentially a social agreement. Everyone commits to participate by either being in the parade . . . or watching it. A small town parade has always been the annual opportunity for everyone in town to see the people and organizations that matter for a wide variety of reasons.
Parades squeeze a year of progress into one hour.
Neighbors get to see Boy Scouts who recently earned their latest ranks as they march by with Troop 238. We all get to see these boys as they become young men. We see all the local kids grow up as so many are in the parade.
The Soroptimists get some recognition for making significant contributions to the community . . . and for being fun too.
Our elected officials are seen by everyone in town. If you see them at the grocery store or diner—you may want to approach them because you recognize them. In the parade, everyone sees the name on a sign and an actual person just a few feet away. They become more approachable and I contend this is far more important than most realize.
Is the Lighthouse Point Keeper Days parade a spectacular entertainment experience? Maybe if you are 7 years old; but hardly if you are 70 . . . but the contract is the same. You may not be in the parade because you are not heavily involved in the Trinity Church, St. Ambrose School or the Exchange Club but the people in all local organizations work selflessly to educate our children, inspire congregants or serve the less fortunate and they deserve the opportunity to show you something of
who they are and perhaps inspire you to participate with them.
How many young boys have become interested in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts from seeing the troop walk down Lighthouse Point Drive? Parades matter.
Maybe I’m over-dramatizing the importance of the parade, but there is value to organizations in the act of showing the community who you are. Preparations build teams and parades provide a showcase.
My wife Susan and I walked the parade route together a couple years ago with a dozen or so Exchange Club members and youth members from Zion and Cardinal Gibbons high schools. We saw neighborhoods of residents assembled at the ends of their streets. I imagine this is the only time of the year when this happens.
There can be a very fine line between silly and important and it’s often hard to see. Hope to see you around town but if not, certainly at next year’s parade.