The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is preparing to kick off the holiday season with a new tradition: a lobster trap tree.
A break from a traditional spruce, the lobster trap tree in Stonington is made of 350 lobster traps and 350 accompanying buoys.
People in the community, including businesses and nonprofits, were invited to sponsor a trap and buoy for $150. The chamber commissioned local artists from Connecticut and Rhode Island to hand paint the buoys.
Photos: Stonington Decks the Docks with a Lobster Trap Tree
Lisa Konicki, president of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, said she got the idea for the tree when she was visiting Massachusetts in 2019. She saw a lobster trap tree in Gloucester and described it as "magical."
"Why don't we have one of these in Stonington? We have this amazing fishing village here and the space for it," said Konicki. "I thought, 'I can do this.' And here we are."
Volunteers spent hours on Tuesday putting the lobster trap tree together. They prepared hundreds of lights, stacked the traps in rows, and cut thousands of zip ties.
"It's being put together with such positive attitudes," said Susan Pfeifer Scala, a local artist who painted the most buoys for the tree.
Pfeifer Scala doesn't know how many buoys she painted, but the chamber guessed she had painted more than 40. Before the project she had never painted a buoy before, but said she loved the challenge.
"There's no favorite one, but each one does have a story," said Pfeifer Scala, who also hosted a workshop to teach some children in the community how to paint the buoys.
According to the chamber, dozens of the buoys were painted by kids.
"It's really exciting for folks to be able to come and see their buoy on the tree," said Konicki.
The tree sits beside the Stonington Town Dock at 1 High Street in Stonington. The chamber hopes that the tree will help recognize the local fishermen.
"This is the last commercial fishing village in the state of Connecticut. This is something to be celebrated," said Konicki. "Putting this lobster tree on this particular location really pays homage to this industry and the hard-work of the people who come here everyday."
The chamber will be hosting a tree lighting ceremony Saturday November 27 at 4:30 p.m. More information can be found here.