Kurt Hansen on Lantern Hill Norm Dudziak and Terry Crandall at Lantern Hill
UPDATE, 18 March 2015: The good news is that we have an actual trail condition report from the Connecticut State Police. The reason and results are bad, though. Team founder and chief musician Peter Leibert spoke with a young state trooper who climbed Lantern Hill Tuesday to investigate the scene where some poor soul decided to jump off the cliff. The trooper said that the trek to the top was pretty awful and it took him over an hour. Since the hike normally takes 10-20 minutes (running to ambling) under good conditions, the fact that a young, fit trooper took that long means that it is highly unlikely anyone will reach the summit this Vernal Equinox. While participation is always at each individual's own discretion and risk, it is recommended to forego the climb this year. It seems to be just too difficult and dangerous this time for anyone not experienced and equipped for a technical climb.
NOTE that this does not mean nothing will be happening. In 2007, a year when a fresh snowfall made the trail extremely slippery, the Westerly Morris Men (2 of us, anyway) danced in the roadway at the trailhead at the base of the hill. You can view that event HERE on You Tube thanks to Steve Pasetti. Our new plan is now to do the same, but with a full team this time. Everyone is welcome to join us there, but you need not arrive as early, since you will not need time to climb. Author Natalie Zaman will be there researching her forthcoming book, so you can come and tell her your stories of past Vernal Equinoxes on Lantern Hill.

The Westerly Morris Men plan to 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 Friday, March 20. By 6:20 A.M., all present will start the 10-20 minute hike to the summit. Sunrise will occur at about 6:51 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 located on Wintechog Hill Road.

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) Storms of the Pequotsepos Outing Club, of Mystic. Morris dancing was introduced to the event in 1987, making 2015 at least the 29th consecutive year of celebration at this time and place.

The public is invited and welcome to this open annual event. Typically, 40 or more people make this early morning trek. This event happens during Daylight Savings Time (which starts March 8), making for a relatively later sunrise time than just a few weeks before.

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 6:45 PM EDT (22:45 UT), March 20 (Source: U.S. Naval Observatory).

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 twice 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 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. This is especially true considering this year's snow cover!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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