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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum celebrates Chesapeake holiday traditions

On Thursday, December 3 from 4 to 7 p.m., the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is inviting the public to celebrate the holidays with a ceremony that includes caroling, the lighting of a tree atop the mast of a traditional Chesapeake workboat, holiday craft activities for kids, store discounts, and the lighting of the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, which is an icon of St. Michaels, Md. and the 50-year old non-profit museum.

1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse
1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse
In preparation for the event, museum volunteers participated in the annual “Making of the Greens,” and along with staff, spent countless hours decorating the museum’s 18-acre waterfront campus and numerous historic structures and boats.

From 4-7 p.m., museum volunteers and staff will host a free children’s activity in the Bay History building, while parents, grandparents and other adults shop in the Museum store, enjoy wine and light refreshments, and free gift wrapping. During the event, CBMM members will receive a one-day-only, 25% total member discount on their total Museum Store purchases. The evening includes a drawing, with tickets sold at the event for a six-foot, crab pot holiday tree, generously donated by the LumberYard of St. Michaels, Md.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Maureen Curtin and Company will greet participants outside the Museum Store with traditional holiday caroling. Participants will stroll along St. Michaels Harbor for the lighting of a tree that has been hoisted atop the mast of Old Point, a 1909 seven-log crab dredger built in Poquoson, Va. and part of the largest collection of Chesapeake Bay watercraft in the world. The historic boat is also featured in the 2015 Christmas in St. Michaels ornament that commemorates the museum’s 50th anniversary, and is available in the museum’s store and other locations throughout the Bay Hundred area.

Old Point was one of a fleet of crab dredging boats that operated out of Hampton, Virginia, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay from the 1910s through the 1960s. From December through March, captains and crews lived on their boats so they could leave early every morning and dredge for crabs all day. In the summer and fall, Old Point carried fish and oysters to packing houses or to market. Old Point’s hull was built the old-fashioned way, hewn from seven pine logs. At that time big logs were hard to get, but watermen still preferred a solid log boat if they could get one.

At 6:00 p.m., carolers will lead participants through the museum’s waterfront campus to watch the lighting of the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, which will be decorated for the holidays.

The historic lighthouse—now standing on Navy Point—used to light the way for boats passing through the shallow, dangerous shoals of Hooper Strait, a thoroughfare for boats bound from the Chesapeake Bay across Tangier Sound to Deals Island or places along the Nanticoke and Wicomico Rivers. As a “screwpile” lighthouse, it is built on special iron pilings which were tipped with a screw that could be turned into the muddy bottom for a depth of 10 feet or more.

The event is free and open to the public, with ample parking and no need for reservations. For more information, visit or call 410-745-2916