Shown here is the “new” Plummy costume that Rhode Island’s Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse are now using in their fund-raising efforts. He’s an upgraded replacement for the original costume that had been created by West Virginia mascot- maker, Dale Morton Studios.
The original Plummy had a cloth exterior that slowly faded over the years. Also, when he appeared at some events, children loved to touch the costume and many would follow him around for much of the time. Occasional “juice-box incidents” took place with the costume getting squirted with sticky, fruity liquids that stained the material.
The “new” Plummy has an outer shell that is covered with several coatings of a rubberized material for easier cleaning. Also, the new suit has a battery-powered ventilation fan for its wearer’s comfort, especially in warmer weather. The original costume had no ventilation and was limited to colder seasonal appearances.
After 1999, when the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse had obtained ownership of the 1899 caisson lighthouse that sits in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, they did not have a solid mechanism in place to raise funds. For several years, they sold hats and tee-shirts, but the return on investment was quite low and they were struggling to raise the funds needed to maintain the lighthouse. In 2009, they approached the Rhode Island General Assembly with the idea of creating a lighthouse-charity license plate. This is when the first Plummy was created as the front-man and outreach for the plates.
After the required legislative testimonies, it took about ten months for the vote to allow them to begin selling the plates. However, they had to get 900 prepaid orders before the DMV would validate the license plate program. Using Plummy at several large events, such as the Rhode Island Boat Show and the Providence Auto Show, they soon had nearly 700 pre-orders before the plates went on sale.
In January 2010, they started selling the license plate in earnest, and by the end of February, had sold the required 900 required minimum. They raised enough funds in 2010 to pay for the $50,000 repainting of the lighthouse. Since then, they’ve surpassed 10,000 sets sold and have raised more than $250,000 for the continual maintenance of the lighthouse. They repainted the lighthouse a second time in 2017, and are expecting to have to repaint it again in the next year or two.
At the height of the original Plummy’s popularity, they were doing about five festival and parade appearances a year. They hope to do many more than that with the new Plummy mascot.
This story appeared in the
Sep/Oct 2021 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.