Three previous presidents have lit Hannibal lighthouses
A presidential tradition pertaining to the dedication of past Hannibal lighthouses may come to an end this fall when the latest lighthouse in America's Hometown is officially christened.
Both Director of Central Services Andy Dorian and City Clerk Angel Zerbonia have reached out to the White House regarding the participation in some form of President Donald Trump in a dedication program.
"During the (lighthouse's) construction phase the mayor (James Hark) reached out to me about the dedication," Dorian said. "He had me write a letter to the White House. I worked with Congressman (Sam) Graves (staff) and we drafted a letter which they sent to the White House."
Zerbonia's invitation to the president was sent last year.
"I was trying to get him to prepare and present a proclamation to the city of Hannibal in recognition of the bicentennial celebration," she said. "As part of my letter I also explained to him how we were rebuilding our lighthouse and spoke of the former presidents who had lit it in hopes that would entice him to prepare a proclamation and submit it to us, and be willing to light the lighthouse and carry on the tradition ofother presidents who lit it from afar."
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to light Hannibal's lighthouse. In 1935 he lit the beacon from Washington, D.C., by pressing a gold key hooked up to telegraph lines.
In 1963, three years after the town's previous lighthouse was blown down during a storm, a new structure was erected. President John F. Kennedy lit the beacon when the new lighthouse was rededicated.
In 1994, following a two-year renovation of the structure, President Bill Clinton lit the beacon.
Despite the presidential history associated with past Hannibal lighthouses, President Trump has remained silent regarding the invitations.
"We thought we'd hear something, but we haven't heard anything yet," Dorian said.
Planning of the lighthouse dedication program will begin soon.
"We will wait to get through Tom Sawyer Days first and then we will sit down with tourism, the parks staff and really start putting this together, whatever it is going to be, with or without the president," Dorian said, adding that invitations will likely be also sent to Missouri's U.S. senators, Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.
While Dorian is ready to consider other dignitaries, Zerbonia has not given up on the president just yet.
"I have sent emails (to Trump) a couple of other times," she said. "The only action I have not taken is try to tweet him. I'm not that savvy with Twitter, but that might be my next step."
While Zerbonia clings to the hope that the president will be involved in the lighthouse dedication, she is not holding her breath that a presidential proclamation acknowledging Hannibal's bicentennial will show up.
"I have given up hope on the proclamation. I really wanted it in January to present and kick off the bicentennial celebration," she said.