Recently Rebecca Borden, President and Interim Executive Director of Cape Ann Art Haven, was asked by Conde Nast Traveler to provide background information on Gloucester’s lobster trap tree for an online slideshow they are preparing about New England’s lobster trap Christmas trees. Rebecca shared with me the same information for a Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism post on which I am working. Especially as the tree has become a holiday tradition beloved by all, I thought our GMG readers would love to know the story as well.
Rebecca writes ~
“Our tree is about 45′ tall and is built from 350 traps. We go for quality community engagement experience over height alone. The idea behind the tree began in 2001 by Janice Lufkin Shea, a downtown business owner. Jeff Worthley started it and built it for 10-years and then handed it off to David Brooks, founder of Cape Ann Art Haven and Ed Collard from the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
No one “owns” the tree. Local lobstermen donate their traps and volunteers work to build it. The fire department uses their hook and ladder to set the star at the top. It is truly an event that brings out the best in the Cape Ann community and that’s why Cape Ann Art Haven has played a leadership role making it happen for the last six years. Cape Ann Art Haven is a community space where artists of all ages and abilities are encouraged to develop creativity and confidence through hands on learning and collaboration.
We close off Main Street for our tree lighting ceremony because we have so many people and families that attend the event. I cannot put an exact number on those who show up but its in the hundreds. Everyone loves the tree – it is a beloved symbol of our winter holiday season.
One of the things that makes our tree unique is that we have children paint donated buoys the week before the tree lighting ceremony. Last year we had more than 440 buoys painted by children – it’s a really big deal for them. The buoys are then used as “ornaments” to decorate the tree. When the tree comes down in January, we keep the buoys and auction them off as a fundraiser for Cape Ann Art Haven where they can go as high as $450 each. We also have local artists create specialty buoys and those have gone as high as $750 each.”