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A visit to the Stonington Lobster Trap tree is a magical experience and provides unique photo opportunities. The artistic and 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 7 weeks beginning November 25, 2023, Small Business Saturday, at 4:30pm.   Please come and visit with your family and friends.  The art installation will be in place through January 7, 2024 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 until 9:30PM 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. 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 are both fun and educational. 40 Stonington children/families participated at no charge this year.  Their buoys become their property when the tree is dismantled.


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2023 Tree Stats

Total Height of the Tree: 35 ft.
Lobster Traps: 450
Buoys: 454
Lights: 1010
Zip Ties: 3385
Professional CT Artists: 87
Professional RI Artists: 46

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 


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. Donations cover purchase of buoys, paint, space rental and pay for artist supervision and clear coating.  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.  Our 501c3 affiliate, the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation produces 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.

Tree Rules

Please don’t touch the buoys or tree. Sometimes the tree is crowded and people don’t see the many signs at night. We have several in place and make periodic announcements but still find ourselves having to regularly remind guests. We are not saying it to embarrass anyone. We are saying it to protect the art, which is somebody’s property.  Art is meant to be seen and not touched; however, often people are excited about the brilliant buoys and they forget. We get it! There is also an understandable desire to want to see the other side of the work. However, spinning buoys on metal traps causes serious scratches and damages to the art. We know that visitors are curious about the artistic process and want to explore further, but the very foundation that displays this outdoor exhibit makes the works especially vulnerable. Buoys with embellishments such as shells, sea glass and stones can appear to be strong, but the cold elements make them brittle and inherently more fragile. Because our buoys are intriguing and colorful, they may seem fun and interactive, especially to those who have the experience of exploration-themed displays in science centers. But these are not toys.  They were created with great care over many, many hours as a labor of love for the visual enjoyment of all. Just as you would never touch a painting hanging on the wall of an indoor museum, please do not touch the buoys at this outdoor exhibition.   The invisible traces left behind by the brushing of finger tips can carry sweat, oils and acids, all of which may transfer to the artwork. A clear coating has been applied to painted buoys to create a high gloss look, add UV protection from the sun, and to provide environmental physical protection, but repeated touching wears down this protective coating- and it can still scratch. We have 2,000 people a day that visit the tree which is on display for 7 weeks. If everyone spun or touched the buoys the results would be catastrophic.  For all the reasons stated above, PLEASE respect the art work.  It is the responsibility of adults to control children in their company and keep pets far away from the art. Do not let a pet get close or “lift a leg” on a child’s buoy! (row 1 is all kids’ work). It has happened and it’s not ok. The tree is a joyful place with friendly volunteer docents on duty monitoring and taking photos at night. We never want this community exhibit to have “guards” or a velvet rope or fence around it. We simply need cooperation to insure that it can continue to be enjoyed by all without causing damages to the works.  Thank you so much for your cooperation.

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Project Goals


● 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 over 200 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 couple difficult years with COVID.

● Strengthens the distinctive character of the community by highlighting the town docks and our seafood industry. 

● Sustainable project- This has become an annual tradition and continues to grow in popularity.  The lobster traps are stored and recycled.


● Each year, artists are hired to paint new buoys which generates thousands of dollars to support the creative economy. 

● Contributes to Connecticut’s cultural assets as a unique art installation that is an internationally recognized 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.  

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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions:


How long has this tradition been going on?

2021 was our first ever Stonington Lobster Trap Tree.  

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 2020 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 were excited to bring 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 over 130 professional artists and another 70 amateur artists or children 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.  In 2021, the BBC News named our tree "one of the 18 most amazing trees in the world."

How did the artists get involved year 1?

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 perspectives 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 enhances the long-standing, traditional holiday rituals in the borough. 

How can an Artist Participate?

Professional artists from all over CT and RI are invited to showcase their talent by donating their time to paint a buoy.  The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce buys the buoys and then delivers them to the artists.   Artists have 4 months to paint whatever they want (nothing violent, offensive, political or commercial advertising).  When the artist is done, we get the buoy back, photograph it, get it clear coated with a UV protective high-gloss coating, promote the artists as a thank you on Facebook, add it to the website, hang the buoy on the tree and then it gets auctioned.  The proceeds stay with the project.  Once artists have donated their time making 1 buoy, they have the option of being included on the list of artists who are willing to be commissioned to paint commercial sponsor buoys.  The sponsor buoys cost businesses $225-$325 and of that, artists receive a stipend of $73. Premiere sponsors ($2,000+) permit us to pay up to $300 to the artist.


If you are a professional artist from RI or CT and would like to be considered to participate in the 2024 project, please email Lisa Konicki at and send your address, phone, website, Etsy shop, Facebook link and Instagram handle to show photos of your work.  While it is not possible to include every artist who would like to support the project, we do our best to expand the invitation list each year.  Particular attention is given to geographic diversity and diversity of styles.  Our artists have included sculptors, glass artists, tattoo artists, professional cake decorators and those who use yarn or fabric to decorate the buoy.


Is this a fundraiser?

Now in its third year, and largely due to over 1,400 hours of donated time throughout the year by Tree Founder, Lisa Konicki and additional hours from Maria DiMaggio, the project experiences a profit to support the OCCC.  The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce 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 were costs associated with the creation of 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. 


In 2021 we bought $3,000 worth of lights. Our gorgeous mahogany door cost $3,200 and that's after a generous discount by A.B. Powell + Associates.  We had to buy a $6,200, 40 cubic foot container to store 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 were mileage costs. There were expenses for signage to recognize sponsors, and inform the public to “please do not touch the tree or buoys” along with new buoys, marketing, brochure printing, buoy delivery, and permits. We paid to rent the COMO and La Grua for the workshops and paid a mere $500 to the COMO to create the beautiful anchor, which has a value well over $3,000. Their generosity was incredible.  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.   Thanks to generous support of donations at the tree, puzzle & ornament sales, and auction monies the project finished in the black. 

We need to be sustainable so the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit organization, can recuperate some of its investment of manpower and support our free movies in Stonington Borough and other community programming.

What type of Volunteer Opportunities exist?

We need help throughout the year delivering buoys to artists and picking them up.  Volunteers are needed to take photos of the buoys and craft social media posts promoting the artists and/or buoy sponsors.  We need volunteers to transport traps from Westerly to Stonington and help set-up the tree.  The night of the tree lighting we need parking lot attendants.  When the exhibit opens, we need docents to greet the public, answer questions, take photos and maintain an orderly line when necessary.  When the exhibit is closed we need help taking down the buoys, wrapping them and storing them in totes.  We need help distributing the buoys to their sponsors once the tree comes down. 

How can I get involved as a volunteer or sponsor?


Volunteers follow this link:


Sponsors contact:

Contact Lisa Konicki via


Phone: 401-596-7761


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 Buoys” section of this site are displayed on the tree and then available for auction February 3, 2024 at St. Mary's Church. An online bidding site (for the artist buoys) will be set-up . The buoys displayed in the “Sponsors Buoys” section and the “Community Member Buoys” are not for sale. They will also displayed on the tree 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? 

Beginning February 1st members of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce have the opportunity to sponsor a buoy at a discounted rate.  on April 1st, the general public is invited to call the Chamber's office, starting at 9AM, to reserve a buoy sponsorship.  Buoys sell out very quickly and in 2023 the project was sold-out on April 5th.  Once you sponsor, 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 Stonington Lobster Trap Tree.

What is the history of the anchor on the top of the tree?

In 2021, 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.  This anchor lasted for 2 season but was not built to withstand the harsh winds and winter elements long term.  As a result, Thavenet Machine Co. of Pawcatuck, CT was commissioned in 2023 to build a new anchor out of aluminum.   We are excited to debut their creation which will be the same dimension as the original anchor. 


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. An anchor is also a nautical symbol which is relevant to Stonington's history and often considered a sign of "hope".

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 the tree itself, other dogs, and from people, as not everyone is comfortable with animals.  Pets should not be making any kind of contact with the buoys or lights of the tree. 


Is the tree wheelchair accessible?

Yes, and there is a handicapped parking space near the tree. 

If you are accompanying a person who is in a wheelchair, and there 

is a line to enter the tree, please go to the front of the line where 

one of our volunteers will assist you with priority entry. 

Why aren’t there food or beverage trucks at the tree?

They would compete with the neighboring businesses we are working hard to support. The tree will remain a stand alone attraction so people move along to the shops and restaurants nearby. We also don’t need more trash to pick up, increased usage of porta jons and a decrease in parking spaces as a result of food trucks.  We are grateful and very respectful of the residents who live near the tree and support the art exhibit and have no intentions of expanding activities.

Inclement Weather.

The tree is open when its raining but volunteer tree docents will not be on site to take pictures during inclement weather.  If there is a snow storm, we reserve the right to close off the entrance to the tree as a precaution due to the weight of the snow on the structure.  Any closures would be posted on the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree Facebook page.

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Committee Members 

Shannon Haeseler -Professional Planning Group, Co-Chair

Frank Ritacco - Ritacco Electric, Co-Chair

Matt Beaudoin - Mystic Knotwork

Jill Beaudoin - Mystic Knotwork

Ron Bedard - Community Member

Michael Benevides - Benevides & Turano

Chris Boyle - Dime Bank

John Boyle - Wadawanuck Club

Jen Brinton - Grey Sail Brewing Company of RI

Mia Byrnes - Community Member

Margaret Corini - Community Member

Dan Crotty - Crotty & Sons Body Works

Tom Curioso - Stonington Public Works Dept.

Maria DiMaggio - Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce

Nico DiMaggio - Community Member

Eric Donch - Stonington Harbor Master

Tom Fabian - Community Member

Andrew Field - Noah’s Restaurant

Suzie Flores - Stonington Kelp Co. 

Jay Douglas - Mechanic Street Marina

Marlena Freitas - Community Member

Beth Frenette - Washington Trust Co.

Jeff Frenette - Coldwell Banker Cahoon

Jeff Hoadley - Stonington Borough Fire Department

Lauren Kehrle - OCCC Intern

Lisa Konicki -Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce

Grace Lund - Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce

Ryan Luther - Community Member

Curtis Lutyen - Ritacco Electric

Kate Maranda - Community Member

Alex Majewski - Ritacco Electric

Aaron Marketos -Sign Guy and Sons

Bruce Morrow -Valenti Subaru

Sofee Nobleck - Community Member

Ethan Palmer - Stonington Harbor Deputy Harbor Master

Victor Pinero - Noah’s Restaurant  

Cheryl Purvis - Community Member

Susan Pfeifer-Scala-Artist

Sherri Quinlan - Community Member

Rob Roche - Mystic Boat Adventure

Beth Roop - ServiceMaster By Mason

Victoria Schwartz - Artist     

Teddy Splaine - Ritacco Electric                                                                                                                    

Barbara Stillman - Indulge Coffee and Sandwiches

Angela Thoman-Miller - Paddy's Beach Club

Joanna Valentini - Professional Planning Group





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