Lobster trap Christmas tree planned for Stonington Town Dock
Stonington — Two years ago, when Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki was visiting Gloucester, Mass., just after Christmas, she happened upon the city's 40-foot tree fashioned out of lobster pots and decorated with buoys and lights.
"I said, 'This is awesome. I am so doing this for Stonington,'" she recalled this past week. "It was so unique and so impressive. I thought, 'Why aren't we doing this?'"
But then COVID-19 hit and Konicki had to put the idea aside as she focused on helping the Westerly-Pawcatuck business community navigate the economic challenges of the pandemic.
Now, she and the chamber are moving with the idea of constructing the 10- to 20-foot-tall tree on the lawn at the Town Dock, with a tree lighting ceremony slated for Nov. 27, which is also Small Business Saturday.
"This could potentially be a new tradition," she said about the tree, which will involve the work of the chamber and its members, as well as local artists and others, all while bring people into the borough at the beginning of the holiday shopping and dining season.
She said the effort will not just drive tourism and celebrate the town's long history of commercial fishing, but help promote the work of local artists, who struggled during the pandemic. More than 42 have signed up so far to decorate buoys for the tree. Those buoys will be auctioned off in February after the tree is dismantled, with proceeds helping to recoup some of the costs of the project.
"This screams Stonington," Konicki said, adding that the tree ties together the community, arts, business and history. "People will love it."
Lobster trap Christmas trees can be found in other coastal communities with strong fishing traditions, such as Rockland, York, Oqunguit and Kennebunkport, Maine; Provincetown and Plymouth, Mass., and Block Island.
Konicki said the chamber will purchase new, green wire lobster traps and stack them in the shape of a tree. While the tree in Gloucester is so large that people can walk inside, Konicki said she does not envision the Town Dock tree to be that large at the beginning. The decorated buoys and lights will the be hung on the tree, which will remain up through Jan. 31, 2022.
Children and families also will be encouraged to decorate buoys for the tree, with organizations such as the La Grua Center and Stonington Community Center hosting artistic workshops.
The chamber has raised $7,300 so far toward the cost of the project. Konicki said that for $150, businesses, individuals and organizations can sponsor the tree, and that money purchases one lobster trap and one buoy for the project. Sponsors can decorate their buoys or have one of the professional artists do it for them, and businesses can place their company logo on them. Sponsors will get to keep their buoy when the tree is taken down.
A website will be launched July 1 at www.lobstertraptree.com outlining more details of the project.