ROCKLAND — Despite a wind advisory throughout Maine, Wednesday, Nov. 14, a group of intrepid volunteers in Rockland braved chills and gusts in order to construct the 18th annual Lobster Trap Tree.
Temperatures were predicted to climb to 30 degrees along the coast, with windchills in the mid-teens, and blustery winds ranging from 20 miles per hour to as high as 50 miles per hour. RSU 13 closed school because of the large portion of district without power.
Still, at 8 a.m., volunteers came, bundled, and determined.
On a windy day, one can’t help but wonder, does the ‘tree’ have special safety measures to keep it in place?
No, according to Gordon Page, Sr., executive director of Rockland Main Street Inc.
Each of the 164 traps is staggered slightly inward, creating convenient steps for the volunteers as they climb ever higher. The traps are zip-tied, per Main Street requirement. The organization also likes to see consistency between squares and rows. Inside each trap is a brick.
As to anything special, the tree has done fine without.
“One year it did blow over,” Page said. “It opened up the top third of it. Blew open like a cover. That was pretty interesting to see the next morning.”
Despite that, from year to year, and without knowing what weather will play antagonist, the structure remains secure. A little sway, yes. But even skyscrapers move a little bit, according to Page.
Five adult volunteers climbing the structure at once also add evidence to its strength.
The 20, or so, volunteers hail from a varied background and experience. All for the love of the season and the city.
Four soon-to-be released inmates from the Bolduc Correctional Facility worked side-by-side with members of the Coast Guard’s Abbie Burgess detail. The Coast Guard, in turn, worked with Rockland Main Street and the community to fit together the 164 traps. Two more pre-releasees helped place wreaths along Main Street.
“The great thing about that program [with the inmates]) is these gentlemen, from Bolduc, they are volunteers,” said Page. “They don’t have to do this.”
Page said Main Street has been lucky to have worked with Bolduc over the last many years, attracting volunteers for Rockland’s projects. The participants work together as teams for the betterment of the community.
“They enjoy it,” he said. “It gets them acclimated into the community. And, especially on a day like today when everybody’s bundled up so much, with the exception of a haircut and some ink, maybe, you wouldn’t know the difference.”
New this year is an effort to Light Up Main Street for Christmas & Beyond, with Rockland Public Services stringing lights in the live trees along Main Street. Money to Light Up Main Street took place earlier this fall through a joint crowd funding and direct appeal campaign which raised more than $6,500, with nearly 50 businesses and individuals contributing.
The lights won’t just be for the holiday season.
“During the darkest, dingiest, months of the winter, they’ll brighten it up a little bit,” said Page.
The 2018 Annual Festival of Lights Celebration is a production of Rockland Main Street, and sponsored by the Island Institute. Additional sponsors appear below.
Nov 23 at noon - Santa’s arrival via U.S. Coast Guard
Nov 23 at 12:15 p.m. - Official ribbon cutting on Main Street
Nov 23 at 12:30 p.m. - Free horse-drawn wagon rides
Nov 23 at 12:30 p.m. - Santa greets kids at his workshop
Nov 23 at 6 p.m. - Official lighting of the lobster trap Christmas tree
Nov 24 all day - Shop small/Shop local Saturday
Nov 24 at 10 a.m. - Share the Wonder at the Farnsworth
Nov 24 at noon - Santa greets kids at his workshop
Nov 24 at 1 p.m. - Historic inn holiday house tour
Nov 24 at 4 p.m. - Festival of Trees silent auction
Nov 24 at 6 p.m. - Parade of Lights
Free horse drawn wagon rides, sponsored by many businesses, will be available on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, then every Saturday from Noon to 3 p.m., with a starting location in downtown Rockland on Elm Street, near the corner of Main Street.