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First Light Beach in Brewster named to honor Wampanoag

Town of Brewster
First Light Beach, located on 55 acres of the former Cape Cod Sea Camps, will open to Brewster residents in July. 

A shore with no name, no more: First Light Beach named by select board "to recognize and respect the long history of the Native American people."

Brewster will open First Light Beach to town residents in time for the July Fourth holiday.

The name honors the Wampanoag, which translates to People of the First Light.

The Brewster select board on Monday night voted unanimously in favor of the name. Other contenders included Sea Camps Beach and Wano Beach.

Cape Cod Sea Camps opened in 1922 and operated for almost a century until the owners shuttered it in 2020, citing the pandemic.

Last year the town bought the shoreline off Main Street as part of a $26 million voter-approved takeover.

Though the Sea Camps name is familiar to many, "it was only associated with this land for fewer than 50 years," Select Board member Mary Chaffee said prior to the vote. "And in comparison, the Wampanoag — the original inhabitants of this area — lived here for up to 12,000 years. This is an opportunity for us to recognize and respect the long history of the Native American people who lived here for thousands of years."

First Light Beach was selected from more than 500 name suggestions from residents as part of a contest last month. It will be the only beach in the country with the name, Chaffee said.

Town officials earlier this month postponed voting on the name while Wampanoag Tribe leaders reviewed the shortlist of suggestions. Town Administrator Peter Lombardi on May 9 told the select board he wanted to ensure the potential name was “culturally sensitive.”

Lombardi on Monday said he is "pretty confident" that the beach will open to residents by July 1. The Department of Public Works will begin construction on the parking lot this week.

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.