Jackson County

Soon to be available, a virtual tour of the Round Island Lighthouse

Nate Metzger sits outside the Round Island lighthouse in Pascagoula on Friday, Nov., 4, 2016 where he gives daily tours. The lighthouse will add cameras to allow for virtual tours of the historic structure.
Nate Metzger sits outside the Round Island lighthouse in Pascagoula on Friday, Nov., 4, 2016 where he gives daily tours. The lighthouse will add cameras to allow for virtual tours of the historic structure. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Nate Metzger gives a great personal tour of the Round Island Lighthouse, complete with its history before and after it moved from Round Island.

Now the city Recreation Department has special equipment coming that will offer a virtual version of Metzger’s job.

The idea is to make it more accessible to those with disabilities, but anyone can benefit, even those who are just afraid of heights.

Next to the little tour building for visitors at the foot of the lighthouse — among the attractive landscaping, the sponsor plaques and commemorative bricks — there is already a stand installed for a kiosk that will give visitors three videos of history and details about the lighthouse.

We want them to get the experience.

Darcie Crew, Pascagoula Recreation Director

Sometime Monday, county crews and a bucket truck are scheduled to work with the city to install cameras outside the lantern gallery at the top of the lighthouse to look east and west.

The kiosk will let visitors on the ground look through those cameras for a sense of what it’s like to climb the lighthouse.

“People who can’t, or don’t want to, can have the same view,” Recreation Director Darcie Crew said. “Nate verbally gives a tour, the kiosk can give the same tour.”

She pointed out that he doesn’t use sign language in his tour and he doesn’t speak multiple languages. The kiosk can handle that. There also is on order a tactile version of the lighthouse and its surroundings for people who are blind or have a visual impairment.

“We want them to get the experience,” Crew said.

The lighthouse sits at the foot of the Pasagoula high-rise bridge, because rebuilding it on Round Island became increasingly difficult hurricane after hurricane. What has grown up around it is a Lighthouse Park, complete with a walking trail.

The kiosk will always be available so visitors can use it for a virtual tour, even when Metzger is off duty.

The new technology is paid for with a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant for improvements to help cities become more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Even though in-person visitors are preferable, someday the history videos from the kiosk will be on the city’s website for virtual visitors to use as well.

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