A visit to the Stonington Lobster Trap tree is a magical experience and provides unique photo opportunities. The architectural masterpiece is situated on a grassy area at the Stonington, Connecticut town dock, paying homage to the town’s renowned fishing industry. Whether you view this spectacle during the day or at night, the beautiful landmark provides an eclectic buoy exhibit that is a flawless balance between stunning professionally painted works and those created by local children.
The Stonington Lobster Trap Tree will be on display for 6 weeks beginning November 27, 2021, Small Business Saturday, at 4:30pm. Please come and visit with your family and friends. The art installation will be in place through January 2022 and there is convenient parking in the lot at the Stonington Town Dock. The Stonington Lobster Trap Tree is the perfect selfie spot, makes a terrific backdrop for your family holiday cards, and is a great excuse to come and visit beautiful Stonington Borough. After you’ve seen the tree, we encourage you to explore the eclectic shops and outstanding restaurants in this quintessential shoreline village. The tree will be lit each night so that it's equally as beautiful in the evening as it is during the day.
Local youth were invited to join the fun and explore the wonder of art at community workshops this fall. Using the people, places, events, traditions and history of the town of Stonington as inspiration, youth painted their own masterpieces to be included on the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree. With the encouraging guidance of Stonington artists, these workshops were both fun and educational. 44 Stonington children/families participated this year.
To learn more about Stonington Borough businesses and events, please visit The Stonington Borough Merchant's Association website.
About the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce is to serve the interests of member businesses and enhance their success while providing community leadership to ensure balanced economic advancement and a high quality of life. We champion our communities' economic and cultural vitality through advocacy, education and networking. The word “community” is in our name for a reason and refers to the two state region we serve. We value the arts as a vital part of the local economy and recognize the enriching affect they have on the lives of local residents. This project, like many others we produce, brings together residents, businesses and the arts community for a shared benefit. The OCCC also produces the Virtu Art Festival each summer in Wilcox Park and the Fusion bodypainting event at the Velvet Mill in Stonington each fall. We produce the annual River Glow event in Stonington, on the Pawcatuck River, each August. To learn more about all our events and activities visit oceanchamber.org
About the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation
The OCCF is the charitable arm of the OCCC and is accepting donations to underwrite buoy workshops for local children. The OCCF also produces educational heirloom publications that raise money for local charities including the Pop Up Book of Stonington and the Pop Up Book of Westerly. We produce the annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race in April which raises funds for over 50 local schools and charities. We also produce the ATHENA leadership award program and provide thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to local youth each year.
GOALS OF THE STONINGTON LOBSTER TRAP TREE
● Promotes tourism and increased visitation to the Town of Stonington, specifically the borough business district by creating a 6 week long attraction.
● Promotes the talents of 100 participating artists from the 2-state region who are creating buoys for display on the tree and provides a collaborative project for them to blend their unique styles. Provides a networking forum for the region’s artists to meet one another and cross promote.
● Encourages young artists by engaging local children and families in the artistic process at community workshops where all supplies are provided. This is a safe, fun family activity.
● Enhances the holiday season by “buoying” the spirits of residents after a difficult year and a half with COVID.
● Strengthens the distinctive character of the community by highlighting the town docks and our seafood industry.
● Sustainable project- This has the potential to become an annual tradition and grow in popularity. The lobster traps would be stored and recycled. Buoys could be made each year by artists and families and some could be recycled.
● Contributes to Connecticut’s cultural assets as a unique art installation that becomes a landmark attraction.
● Highlights the culture and history of our community by depicting town landmarks and community celebrations in some of the art work. Incorporates the history of the commercial fishing industry and the town itself in some of the artistic programming.
● Promotes collaboration between the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and some of its members including artists, the Stonington Borough Merchants Association, LaGrua Center and The Stonington COMO which will be hosting artistic workshops for families.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where did the idea come from?
There are more than 15 lobster trap trees all over New England including Rockport Maine, Gloucester Mass, and Block Island RI. Each reflects the unique character of that community and ranges in size and project scope. Some trees have been created for over 20 years in these communities while other towns are just joining the fun, such as Stonington. Lisa Konicki, President of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, saw the Gloucester Mass. tree in January 2019 and was awe struck by the incredible structure. It was beautifully decorated entirely with buoys painted by local children. She knew immediately that the OCCC would undertake a similar initiative in the near future and had hoped to do so in 2020. Covid put those thoughts on hold that year but we are excited to be bringing this project to fruition in 2021.
What makes this Stonington, Connecticut tree unique?
This is the only Lobster Trap Tree that features the gorgeous works of professional artists as part of the display. This is an art installation as well as a collaborative community project that engages families. Professional artists worked alongside local children at workshops in the fall and helped them create special buoys to represent their talents and ideas. Together, the collection of artist's and children's buoys created a beautiful tapestry of color.
How did the artists get involved?
While efforts were made to include as many Stonington artists as possible, committee outreach to gifted artists extended far beyond the town borders. Supporters from across two states have graciously and enthusiastically joined us in this endeavor. By welcoming many diverse voices and talents, we have truly enriched the project while simultaneously fostering Stonington ambassadors across an extensive geographic area. We welcome them. We thank them. And we applaud their originality. Their collective works will proudly grace the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree and this installation will enhance the long-standing, traditional holiday rituals in the borough.
Is this a fundraiser?
No. The Stonington Lobster Trap Tree is not a fundraiser. In fact, The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce has incurred significant up-front costs to create this magical sculpture the first year. The OCCC purchased 378 lobster traps (used ones would not be as safe structurally), 360 buoys, strings of lights, tie wraps and paint & brushes. There were costs to apply for event permits and insurance. There are costs associated with the creation of this new website and the insurance policy to protect the organization against liability. There will be costs for electricity, event programs, marketing, security, brochure printing, mileage and more.
Our gorgeous mahogany door cost $3,200 and we had to buy a $6,200, 40 cubic foot container to store 325 of the 378 traps at the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. Most of the buoys were driven to the artists all over CT and RI, and picked up when the art was complete, so there are mileage costs. There are signage expenses to recognize sponsors, and inform the public to “please do not touch the tree or buoys”. We paid to rent the COMO and La Grua for the workshops and paid $500 to the COMO to create the anchor. We bought a terrific, professional grade, Sandy Claws lobster costume. Thankfully, clear coating of the buoys was donated by Crotty and Sons and the nautical rope was donated by Mystic Knotwork.
We will work hard to rally community support, secure donations and use the funds from the buoy auction to help off set some of these expenses. When the project reaches the financial “break even” point we are already looking ahead to 2022. We hope to purchase more lights for the inside of the tree and add 3 more tiers of traps at the top portion of the tree which is estimated to be 60 more traps, 55 more buoys, more tie wraps, lights, etc. We would like to install a video camera to monitor the project as well.
At some point in the future, the project will become profitable and the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization, will be able to recuperate some of its investment of manpower. We will then provide opportunities for local non-profits to serve as tree docents and benefit from donations collected during their shift, as well as support our scholarship program and other community programming.
How can I get involved as a volunteer or sponsor?
Contact Lisa Konicki via
How do I donate to support the project and is it tax deductible?
Send your check payable to OCCC, 1 Chamber Way, Westerly, RI 02891.
Corporate sponsorships payable to the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce are considered a marketing investment and are therefore considered an ordinary business expense. They are not a charitable donation. However, to make a donation that is 100% tax deductible as a charitable contribution, donate to the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation and your money will be used to support the artists workshops with local children. Funds will cover the buoys, paints, brushes, rope and clear coating.
Are the painted buoys for sale?
The beautiful buoys painted by professional artists from the 2-state region, and featured in the “Artists and Buoys” section of this site are displayed on the tree and then available for auction February 4, 2022. The buoys displayed in the “Sponsors and Buoys” section and the “Community Member Buoys” are not for sale. They are also displayed on the tree currently and then they become the property of those sponsors or community members noted in the images.
How do I get to have a buoy on the tree?
Selected artists have been invited by the Committee to paint buoys that will be part of this art installation. If you are a professional artist and wish to be considered, please contact Lisa Konicki at 401-596-7761. There is no cost to those artists that are invited and we supply the buoy (and paints if desired). If you are a member of the local community, or a local business who would like to have a buoy on the tree, sponsor at $150 which includes a donation of a lobster trap towards the project, and ownership of 1 buoy. You may either paint the buoy yourself, have it painted by a friend, or we can get it painted for you by one of our participating artists, at no additional cost to you. When the tree comes down, you can pick up your buoy and keep it as a reminder of the special, first-ever, Stonington Lobster Trap Tree.
What is displayed on the top of the tree?
The Stonington COMO built a five foot anchor for the tree topper utilizing the COMO Makerspace's Glowforge laser cutter. The anchor was cut into smaller pieces and connected using dovetail joints and brace plates behind the joints for added stability. They made two of the five foot anchors, which gives the anchor added dimension. The two sides of the anchor were connected with one inch dowels. It was sealed and finished for outdoor use. They used LED light strips to light it up. An anchor was selected by the Lobster Trap Tree Committee because it is part of the Town of Stonington’s official logo and also part of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce logo.
Are dogs allowed at the tree?
Yes, if they are on a leash at all times. Please clean up after your pet and always keep a safe distance from other dogs and from people, as not everyone is comfortable with animals.
Mikey Baker - Mikey B's Lawncare & Snowplowing
Matt Beaudoin - Mystic Knotwork
Jill Beaudoin - Mystic Knotwork
Jessica Cerullo - Social Practice Artist
Danielle Chesebrough - Town of Stonington
Dan Crotty - Crotty & Sons Body Works
Tom Curioso - Stonington Public Works Dept.
Beth D'Amato - Dime Bank
Maria DiMaggio - Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce
Nico DiMaggio - resident
Scott Erricson - E2 Engineers
Tom Fabian - resident
Andrew Field - Noah’s Restaurant
Marlena Freitas - Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce Intern
Beth Frenette - Washington Trust Co.
Jeff Frenette - Coldwell Banker Cahoon
Wendy Gencarelli - Artist
Shannon Haeseler - Jewett City Savings Bank
Jeff Hoadley - Stonington Borough Fire Department
Lisa Konicki -Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce
Jillian Lauren - Artist
Curtis Lutyen - Ritacco Electric
Alex Majewski - Ritacco Electric
Aaron Marketos -Sign Guy and Sons
Barbara McKrell - Stonington Public Works Dept.
Bruce Morrow -Valenti Subaru
Bruce Powell - AB Powell Woodworks
Maria Pucci - Bella Vita Salon
Frank Ritacco - Ritacco Electric
Victoria Schwartz - Artist
Kristin Shaffer - Artist
Teddy Splaine - Ritacco Electric
Barbara Stillman - Indulge Coffee and Sandwiches
Jeanette Morrone Vertentes - Artist
Victoria Witte - Stonington COMO