Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Friday, August 12, 2022

    Stonington lobster trap tree gains international acclaim

    Visitors view and take photos, both inside and out, with the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, at Town Dock in Stonington Borough. The tree is the brainchild of Lisa Konicki, president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, after she saw photos and videos of a similar tree in Gloucester, Mass. The tree consists of over 378 authentic lobster traps, decorated with 360 custom-painted lobster buoys. It was erected in the days before Thanksgiving and an official lighting ceremony was held the Saturday after. The tree will remain in place into the new year. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    Stonington — Day and night for the past month, even in the rain, people have lined up to see and take pictures of the 25-foot tall lobster trap tree at the Town Dock in the borough.

    Now the accolades are coming in from overseas as the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) has named the tree as one of the 18 amazing Christmas trees from around the world.

    The first-year tree, which was the idea of Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Konicki, is listed alongside iconic trees found in New York City's Rockefeller Center, London's Trafalgar Square and Bethlehem in Palestine, as well as a 130-foot-tall digital version in Seville, Spain.

    "Back to the US for one more quirky tree — made entirely of lobster pots! You can actually go inside this attraction in Stonington, Connecticut, USA. The tree is made up of nearly 350 modern lobster pots and decorated with hand painted buoys and lights," the BBC writes.

    Konicki had the idea for the tree in December 2019, when she saw ones in other commercial fishing communities such as Gloucester, Mass., being used to boost tourism. She began working on the project this past spring as she assembled and coordinated the artists, sponsors, materials and volunteers.

    The tree, which is constructed out of 378 new lobster traps, and decorated with 360 buoys painted by professional artists and students and thousands of multicolored LED lights, was unveiled on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    Since then, thousands or people have poured into the borough to see the tree at all hours. They line up to take photos inside, where a volunteer is stationed from 4:15 to 9:50 p.m., the time during which the tree is lit each day. During the day, the tree attracts people taking photos of the individual buoys. 

    "It's a completely different experience at night. In the daytime it's like going to an art museum," Konicki said Sunday.

    Konicki said people have told her they have driven from as far away as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York just to see the tree as word about it has spread through social and traditional media. There have also been three marriage proposals inside the tree as people waiting in line cheered.

    "It's exceeded all of our expectations. It's crazy how it has touched people," she said about the tree, which will stay up until Jan. 31. "And everyone says it's so much better in person."

    Konicki, who has been at the tree every day except one, tells the story of the tree and how it came to be as people stand in line to go inside. She said one challenge has been finding volunteers to help staff the tree. But she said borough residents and others have been stepping up to fill shifts.       

    "I'm glad people appreciate all the time that went into this. A lot of people participated in this," she said.   

    Deborah Norman, who owns Grand & Water Antiques and is on the Board of Directors of the Stonington Borough Merchants Association, said merchants and restaurants have seen more people coming into the borough this Christmas season because of the tree. The merchants have also sponsored a treasure hunt for buoys in their shops that allow people to enter a raffle to win prizes such as $700 in gift certificates to borough businesses. 

    "This has been really cool. It's better than we ever expected," she said, about the tree, adding that it's Mystic that usually garners the press attention. "Lisa had such a vision."

    Konicki, though, is not resting on her laurels as she is planning a bigger and better tree next year.

    She said the plan to is to make the tree three tiers taller, which will requires another 50 to 60 traps and buoys as well as more lights.

    While the chamber has now raised enough donations to cover the cost of the $45,000 project, Konicki said it is now raising money for next year's larger tree. People can donate using a Venmo code posted inside the tree, make a donation inside the tree or send a check to the chamber.

    Information about the tree and each buoy, how to donate and details about the Feb. 4 auction of 113 of the professionally painted buoys is available at www.lobstertraptree.com. That event at St. Mary Church hall will feature a public viewing, artists' reception and a ticketed auction. There will also be online bidding.

    j.wojtas@theday.com   

    Visitors view the interior of the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, at Town Dock in Stonington Borough. The tree is the brainchild of Lisa Konicki, president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, after she saw photos and videos of a similar tree in Gloucester, Mass. The tree consists of over 378 authentic lobster traps, decorated with 360 custom-painted lobster buoys. It was erected in the days before Thanksgiving and an official lighting ceremony was held the Saturday after. The tree will remain in place into the new year. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    Post your comment

    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that does not contribute to an engaging dialogue. Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines. Read the commenting policy.