A Christmas Tree Fresh From The Sea

The residents of Jonesport and Beals Island, Maine, are putting up a giant Christmas tree of sorts. Their tree is actually made of stacks of lobster traps. Host Liane Hansen speaks with Buddy Mills, who helped organize the effort.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

There are no hackerspaces on Beals Island, Maine but that hasn't stopped residents from tinkering with a holiday institution - the Christmas tree. And when it's lit tonight, the community will marvel at their Tannenbaum made from lobster traps.

Buddy Mills is one of the organizers of the event. He's on the phone at the base of the tree. Hey there, Buddy.

Mr. BUDDY MILLS: How you doing?

HANSEN: I'm doing well. How many traps did it take to make that tree you're under?

Mr. MILLS: I believe we have 769 - an unofficial count.

HANSEN: Oh, my goodness. So, why did your community decide to build a Christmas tree out of lobster traps?

Mr. MILLS: Well, we thought it would be a nice nautical theme and, you know, it was something that we could for the community. And those were readily available - most of the fishermen are bringing their traps in now.

HANSEN: Yeah. How do you put this thing together? What are the mechanics of it?

Mr. MILLS: The first 10 or 15 tiers we just laid in a circle and then as we got up above that, we started using what we call wire ties to tie them together. We kept going in circles, just moving the diameter in a little bit each time. We put some on their sides, some flat down and then on the very top we have some going straight up and down.

HANSEN: Now, these traps are different colors, right? We're not just looking at the plain old grayish lobster traps, are we?

Mr. MILLS: No, no, no. We have some yellow ones, some red ones, green ones, you name it.

HANSEN: And you decorate with buoys as well?

Mr. MILLS: We have. We're probably going to have probably 100 buoys in that thing anyway.

HANSEN: All right. So, I understand folks in Rockland, Maine build a lobster trap tree, too. Do you guys have a rivalry between Jonesport-Beals Island and Rockland?

Mr. MILLS: Well, I think we're trying to start one if you want to know the truth.

HANSEN: They're wanting to start it or you?

Mr. MILLS: I think we are.

HANSEN: Oh yeah, oh yeah?

Mr. MILLS: Their tree is, I believe it's got 152 traps. I want to say that the paper said 30 feet but somebody else told me 36 feet. So, we have a lot more traps in our tree and we are definitely taller.

HANSEN: Wow. And, you know, as if the tree was not enough, after the tree is lit this evening, there's a lobster boat Christmas flotilla. What does that look like?

Mr. MILLS: It's going to be Sunday evening at 5:30. And we have between 15 and 20 lobster boats they're going to deck out in Christmas lights and they'll sail out through the body of water between Beals Island and Jonesport. And they go up one side and make a big circle on the other end and come back down through the bridge.

HANSEN: Sounds beautiful.

Mr. MILLS: It's a good time for young and old.

HANSEN: Buddy Mills of Jonesport-Beals Island, Maine, a home to what they hope will be the world's largest lobster trap Christmas tree. Buddy, thanks. Have a great time.

Mr. MILLS: Hey, you too. Tell everybody to come on down.

HANSEN: This is NPR News.

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