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    Hull to light up at annual tradition

    Volunteers will light flares along the bay shoreline in Hull Saturday as part of the fifth annual Harbor Illumination.
    Brian Tague
    Volunteers will light flares along the bay shoreline in Hull Saturday as part of the fifth annual Harbor Illumination.

    About 3 miles of Hull’s shoreline will light up at sunset on Saturday in the fifth annual Harbor Illumination sponsored by Hull Lifesaving Museum.

    The lights will come from about 1,200 flares stationed along the bayside of Hull, from A Street to James Landing near the Hull Public Library, according to museum spokeswoman Corinne Leung. As the flares burn, bagpiper Tom Childs will be rowed along the route, playing laments, Scottish tunes, and tributes to the US military.

    “It’s really quite impressive, and very beautiful,” Leung said.


    The tradition of lighting the harbor goes back at least to the late 1800s, when the Hull Division of the Boston Yacht Club was in charge and red fire torches extended all the way to Hingham. By the 1920s, the lights had spread as far as Quincy.

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    A 1925 advertisement described the illumination of the “shores and hills of Hull and Hingham bays, including Weymouth Fore River’’ as “the great Event of the Year for the summer residents of Hull, Hingham, North Weymouth, and Quincy.’’

    The practice faded, although there was a brief renewal in the 1990s, Leung said. The lifesaving museum decided to revive the tradition in 2009 as part of a maritime celebration, she said.

    That first illumination centered on the crescent of Windemere Bay near the Hull Yacht Club, and has gradually expanded in both directions along the coast.

    The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Hull Lifesaving Museum, with tours and reenactments of the “breeches buoy” lifesaving technique. At 6 p.m., participants will gather at Hull Cemetery to honor famed lifesaver Joshua James and to place flags at the graves of Massachusetts Humane Society, US Life-Saving Service, and US Coast Guard personnel.


    Volunteers will take their posts at 7 p.m., and the flares will be lit simultaneously at sunset.

    Anyone can donate a flare, for $10, in memory or celebration of a person or event, Leung said. The proceeds go toward restoration of the museum building, the historic Point Allerton US Lifesaving Station.

    More information is available at the museum website
    or by calling 781-925-5433.

    Johanna Seltz can be reached at