The Westerly Morris Men will celebrate the Vernal Equinox by dancing at dawn on the summit of Lantern Hill in North Stonington, Connecticut. The Vernal Equinox is the moment at which the center of the Sun lies precisely above the Earth's equator, astronomically marking the beginning of Spring.

Participants in the hike and festivities will start meeting at the base of the hill at 6:00 A.M. on Wednesday, March 20. By 6:20 A.M., all present will start the 10-20 minute hike to the summit. Sunrise will occur at about 6:50 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time (Source: U.S. Naval Observatory web site)

Lantern Hill is located on the Ledyard / North Stonington town line, just south of Route 2. The trailhead is on Wintechog Hill Road. To reach Wintechog Hill Road from Norwich, take Foxwoods Boulevard and turn right one road after Lantern Hill Road / Route 214 (the location of Foxwoods Casino). From Westerly, take the first exit off of the new Route 2 Bypass, then turn left onto Foxwoods Boulevard and right onto Wintechog Hill Road. The trailhead is less than 1/4 mile south of Foxwoods Boulevard.

You may click HERE to see pictures of and from Lantern Hill and read much about it .

The Vernal Equinox hike was originally started by Betsy Oller of the Pequotsepos Outing Club, of Mystic. Morris dancing was introduced to the event in 1987, making 2013 at least the 27th consecutive year of celebration at this time and place. Accomplished musician Rebecca Noreen will provide the music this year, after making her Lantern Hill musical debut in 2012.

The public is invited and welcome to this open annual event. Typically, 40 or more people make this early morning trek. This event now happens during Daylight Savings Time, so people may take advantage of the new "more civilized" time of the event to participate.

It was and is the hope of the original and current organizers that this event will go on in perpetuity, with or without the Westerly Morris Men, who are a part of the event, not the event itself. If people have ideas about other appropriate celebratory activities for the event, please come up and test them out. It would also be handy if you let us know in advance, so we can coordinate.

The actual Equinox will occur at 7:02 AM EDT, March 20 (Source: U.S. Naval Observatory via NOAA web site). The timing makes for a rare treat: the dancing will be ongoing at the time of the actual equinox!

This hike traditionally occurs at the dawn of the day in which the Equinox falls in the Eastern Time Zone. According to the referenced web site, the Vernal Equinox will occur on March 20 through the year 2019, therefore, long-range planners can place this event on their calendars on March 20 every year through 2019.

The Westerly Morris Men practice approximately 2-3 times per month on Tuesday nights at McQuade's Marketplace in Westerly, Rhode Island, and are currently seeking new dancers. To inquire about joining the team, please contact team founder and chief musician Peter Leibert of Preston, CT, at phone # 860-887-9184. You may also inquire about joining the team by sending an email to the Web Master at

This event is organized by morris man Norman Dudziak of Barrington, RI, phone # 401-437-0240.

You can signup for The Westerly Morris Men's new occasional email newsletter to let you know about upcoming events, see reports on past events, or see historical photos and stories.

This event occurs regardless of the weather, solely at the discretion and risk of the participants. It is suggested that individuals having any safety concerns related to the weather, expected trail conditions, or their own personal health or fitness, enjoy a good night's sleep, get up a little early, and have their own personal celebration at home.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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