By K. David Weidner, Ph.D. Executive Director

It’s that great time of year again, when all of us at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum turn our minds to the holiday season ahead – kicked off by the annual lighting of the Pilgrim Monument.

The 2022 season

We had a great 2022 season at PMPM – highlighted by two grand debuts: the opening (finally) of the much anticipated inclined elevator, connecting the Bas Relief Park on Bradford Street to the Monument grounds enabling greater accessibility to PMPM; and the opening of our newest exhibit, An Anecdotal LGBTQ+ History of the Last Century of Provincetown, curated in partnership with the Generations Project, based in New York City.

The inclined elevator has proven to be a huge success, transporting thousands of museum patrons between High Pole Hill and the commercial district of Provincetown. Gone are the days of wondering how to get up the big hill and the resulting long walk (or drive) from the downtown area. 

We are grateful for the patrons who have contributed to the sustainability of the Museum and Monument by paying for parking and then purchasing their admission tickets. If patrons do not wish to park, they can purchase their admission tickets at Bradford Street and use the inclined elevator to visit the Monument and Museum and even bring a picnic lunch to be enjoyed on our beautifully manicured lawn featuring the best view in town. As always, members get complimentary admission – a benefit of membership with the oldest non-profit on Cape Cod.     

Our new exhibit has also been met with rave reviews as it chronicles an integral part of Provincetown’s history. If you’ve not had a chance to experience it yet (or ride the inclined elevator), please be sure to mark our opening date of April 1, 2023 on your calendar and plan to visit us next year. In the meantime, you can read about it in this great article by Patrick Flanary in the Cape Cod Times

Why do we light the Monument?

Lighting the Pilgrim Monument each year takes us back to our roots and why our organization was founded in the first place – to commemorate the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landfall in the New World and the signing of the historic Mayflower Compact in what is now Provincetown Harbor. As most local residents know, the lights will be on throughout the holiday season in recognition of the time the Pilgrims spent on the Outer Cape, exploring the coast by shallop, meeting the local Wampanoags (stealing their corn and being impolite guests), before sailing onto what is now Plymouth and giving a certain rock notoriety. 

Did you know that you can honor a loved one by dedicating a lighting for an evening or even a few hours to them? Courtney Hurst, current PMPM board member and Provincetown local, recalls when she was a child, her grandmother would gift lightings to her grandchildren. “It was always special knowing on one night, the Monument was lit for me,” said Courtney. 

If you’d like to dedicate the lighting to a special someone, please click here. 

Starting in 2020 – the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage – the Lighting was moved from the night before Thanksgiving to November 11th, which is the actual day the Pilgrims recorded in their diaries as having reached the New World. For complete details on the motives and math behind the switch, please read this post.

In-person ceremony

Many of you have inquired about why PMPM no longer hosts an in-person celebration for the Annual Lighting on our grounds. Initially, we had to stop doing it for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the pandemic has been declared to be in the rearview mirror, numbers are still high.

Despite our ongoing concerns for safety, the fact is the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum simply lacks the resources and capacity to host this event. As much as we love a good party, we had to make the difficult decision to end this long-maintained tradition. We realize that many folks are disappointed, and we are too, but the in-person celebration is just something we can no longer support. 

Time to get Loud for the Lights

Despite the discontinuation of the on-ground ceremony, we know folks will gather on their own with friends, family and loved ones and get Loud for the Lights by cheering and honking their horns when the lights come on a little after 6:00pm this Friday. For those who love the Monument the world over, we do plan to livestream the lighting on Facebook and encourage everyone to check the PMPM website or our social media channels on Friday for the link. The virtual lighting gives everyone the chance to see the Monument aglow. 

Once the lights are turned on, PMPM will officially be closed for the 2022 season. We thank everyone who visited us this year and cannot wait to see you all back up on High Pole Hill when we open for 2023 on April 1. 

We wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season and winter ahead! 

UPDATE: The 2022 Annual Lighting took place virtually on Friday, November 11 at 6:00 pm Eastern time. If you missed it, you can view our Facebook Live video here. (Fast forward to 1:38 in the video)


Please help PMPM!

Please support the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum’s annual Lighting appeal. Every bit helps us to ensure the Pilgrim Monument remains a symbol of our community and representative of our inclusive values. Donate today!