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Lighthouse Drawing Bigger Crowds than Ever

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BUXTON — The big move of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is just weeks away. If you plan on making the trip to view history as it happens, theNational Park Servicebelieves you are going to have a lot of company.

Their advice: bring plenty of refreshments, sunscreen and insect repellent.

"It is going to be a slow moving process, a very cautious process," explains volunteer Nancy Gianotti to a group of tourists. "They'll have a jack and places they'll go in with a steel beam."

The crowds are already starting to grow. High school field trips, out-of-state family getaways, and those who are simply curious make up the 300 to 400 visitors who make the daily pilgrimage to Hatteras.

By the time the lighthouse actually leaves home base, the crowds may be as large as 10,000 a day!

"There's gonna be extra Park Service people to control traffic," explains Gianotti. "Anybody can get as close to the fence as they want and watch it go by."

To watch it go by you will have to look very closely; its top speed will be two inches a minute, a maximum of 15 feet per day.

"It's been described as watching grass grow or paint dry," comments Stephen Ryan of the National Park Service.

To watch this slow but significant part of history, prepare for some inconvenience. There will be very few places to park, very few available motel rooms and plenty of heat and humidity.

"Of course summers down here we have a few mosquitos and biting flies and an assortment of other critters to welcome you," says Ryan.

Most of the people we talked with said that is OK since this is a once in a lifetime experience -- one they would not miss even if a turtle nicknamed "Lightning" moves more quickly than the lighthouse will.

"It's going to be two inches a minute? That's going to be hard to see. You can't see it. But that's the thrill of it," says lighthouse visitor Billy Trivette.

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David Crabtree, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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