The ‘Diamond in the Rough’ Celebrates its 50th Anniversary and the NPS Centennial

2016 Cape Lookout Anniversary & Centennial Celebration

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News Release Date: June 1, 2016

Contact: B.G. Horvat, 252-728-2250, ext. 3014

Cape Lookout National Seashore is a Diamond in the Rough among the 411 national park units. This year, the National Seashore observes its 50th Anniversary as part of the national park system, which came to fruition on March 10, 1966, the day President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the 56-mile long natural barrier island ecosystem as part of the national park system. In conjunction to that monumental event, the National Park Service salutes August 25, 1916, the day President Woodrow Wilson signed the act passed by Congress to create the National Park Service. A new federal agency in the Department of the Interior responsible for protecting the existing thirty-five national parks and monuments and those yet to be established, like Cape Lookout National Seashore.

In commemoration of these two major anniversaries, The National Park Service welcomes you to Harkers Island Visitor Center on June 18, 2016 to join park staff, volunteers, and local dignitaries for festivities and a ceremony honoring both the 50th Anniversary of Cape Lookout as a National Seashore, and the National Park Services 100th Anniversary of existence.

"This is a big year for Cape Lookout National Seashore and the National Park Service," according to Cape Lookout National Seashore Superintendent Patrick Kenney, "Cape Lookout National Seashore is an amazing place that has been protected for us and future generations as part of the larger national park system." The creation of Cape Lookout National Seashore is the result of the local communities, the State of North Carolina and the federal government having worked collaboratively to ensure that this stretch of barrier islands is protected. "When I am out on the beach in the park, I am always amazed at the pure beauty of the area, but I also think about how fortunate we are to have this place and thankful for the leadership shown by the people that worked to have it protected for us to experience today."

In support of the celebratory day, Island Express Ferry Service will be offering the public 50% off roundtrip ferry rides to South Core and Shackleford Banks all day on June 18, departing from Beaufort and Harkers Island. "We're proud to support Cape Lookout National Seashore by providing transportation for folks so they can experience the beaches and resources of the Southern Outer Banks, particularly the wild horses of Shackleford Banks and the Cape Lookout lighthouse," said Captain George Aswad, owner of Island Express Ferry Service.

The theme for the day is Cape Lookout National Seashore is a 'Diamond in the Rough' of the National Park Service. Details of the day are as follows:

Harkers Island Visitor Center

  • The first 400 visitors to check in for the day's activities at the Harkers Island Visitor Center Information Desk will be able to take part in the'Diamond in the Rough –Badge Bonanza', where participants receive a 'I Found My Park' badge and then, go explore the park attractions for a chance to win a special NPS Centennial gift (redeemable at the Harkers Island Visitor Center information desk).
  • 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Kids can take part in the 'Diamond in the Rough –Treasure Dig', a hands-on activity that gets children sifting through the sand in search of sparkly gems and shells.
  • 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Traditional Down-East music will be performed by Connie Mason; also, Fish House Liars, Rodney Kemp and Joel Hancock, will share tales from North Carolina's Down East community.
  • 11 a.m. to Noon: The Cape Lookout National Seashore 50th Anniversary / National Park Service Centennial ceremony will take place. The program will feature dignitary expressions, reveal the winners of the 'Diamond in the Rough 4th Grade Art Contest', and the singing of the 'Children's Nature Anthem' by the Carteret County Youth Choir.
  • 1 p.m. –3:30 p.m.: Horse Sense Tour - Join park biologist, Dr. Susan Stuska (Departing from Harkers Island to East-end of Shackleford Banks aboard Island Express Ferry Service) for a glimpse of the elusive, wild horses of Shackleford Banks. Reservations are required.
Light Station Visitor Center:

  • 9:45 a.m. –4:15 p.m.: Lighthouse Climbs (every 15 minutes) Self-guided tours of up to 10 people at a time.
  • 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.: The Sand Beneath Our Feet –Join Rangers for 20-minute talks at the Light Station Visitor Center Shade Shelter to find out more and hear stories about the nature and history of the Southern Outer Banks.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Turtle Trek with Wildlife Biologist, Jon Altman for a 90-minute walk to discover and understand more about the sea turtles that use the Southern Outer Banks as a nesting ground. Program meets at the Light Station Visitor Center.

Also, June 16, 17, and 18 (7: 15 p.m. –10 p.m.): Evening at the Cape. Join a Park Ranger for a unique opportunity to witness the sunset into night from atop of the lighthouse and hear stories featuring the lighthouse keepers who were dedicated to keeping the light illuminated, and the night dwellers that make up the Outer Banks ecosystem.

National parks, including Cape Lookout National Seashore, will celebrate the NPS Centennial throughout 2016, with special events and activities taking place at various times in the year. Go to or for more details, including how to make reservations for the Horse Sense Tour and the Evening at the Cape nighttime experience.

Last updated: June 3, 2016

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Mailing Address:

131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


(252) 728-2250

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