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Lights Out Across the Bay July 29th

Lights Out, Northern Michigan!

The Northwest Michigan region enjoys the unique and prestigious distinction of being home to one of just a dozen International Dark Sky Parks in the United States, and one of just 17 now in the world, at Emmet County’s Headlands park property.

That means all of Northern Michigan revels in the beauty created by protection of the night sky, and Emmet County continues its work toward protecting this resource through its annual Lights Out Challenge! This year, the Lights Out Across the Bay and Lights Out Across the Straits challenges will take place on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. During that timeframe, residents, businesses and visitors in the communities of Petoskey and Harbor Springs, and Mackinaw City and St. Ignace will compete with one-another to achieve greater darkness over their towns.

“We’re asking everyone to shut their lights off for one hour and take the opportunity to reconnect with the sky above,” said Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams.

The event is timed to coincide with the peak of the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower on July 29, one of the most popular meteor showers of the year. Participants can show their support by signing a Lights Out Pledge and posting their support in residence windows or at the entrance to business locations. Pledge forms are available on the County web site, www.emmetcounty.org and at area Chambers of Commerce in the four communities.

“Signing the pledge means you agree to turn out your outdoor lights and inhibit any indoor light from spilling outside for one hour, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m., on Thursday, July 29,” said Adams. “It’s free, it’s fraught with good will, it saves money, and provides a great way to get to know your neighbors.”

How will it work?

Step one: Prior to the event, designated Emmet County staff will measure the sky quality, using a Sky Quality Meter that registers darkness levels, in St. Ignace and in Mackinaw City, and Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

Step two: Between now and the event, area residents, business owners and visitors will pledge to turn out the lights and plan for an evening in the dark!

Step three: On July 29, between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. turn out your lights across Little Traverse Bay and the Straits of Mackinac.

The winning community from each pair of towns will receive media recognition and an award from Emmet County.

Once again, the Mackinac Bridge Authority will participate in the Straits challenge by turning off the cable lighting on the Mighty Mac.

“The beauty of our natural northern Michigan surroundings is a fundamental reason why tourists choose to visit the Straits area, and why residents choose to live here," said Bob Sweeney, Executive Secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority. "While many people come north to see the Mackinac Bridge lit, we're happy that our participation in the Lights Out Challenge helps improve the terrific views of our night sky.”

The communities that achieve greater darkness will be announced on July 30, 2014.

The Lights Out initiative, led by Emmet County, includes the combined efforts of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Harbor Springs, the City of Petoskey, Bay View Association, the Mayors and Village Managers of St. Ignace and Mackinaw City, Mackinaw City Village Council Members, Visitors’ Bureaus, and Downtown Development Authorities, as well as the Mackinac Bridge Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“Truly it takes the entire community to protect the vast and inspiring resource of the deep, dark night sky that we enjoy in Northwest Michigan,” Adams said. “This voluntary, awareness-raising event shines the light on the unique ways Emmet County informs our community, region and state about the importance of protecting the night sky.”

If you have questions about the Lights Out Challenge, call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

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