It’s a holiday display that only the Chesapeake Bay could pull off: crab pot Christmas trees, lighting up the shores.
This year, Calvert County joins the expanding list of towns where watermen’s gear like buoys, pots and bushel baskets take on a festive function. The Calvert County Watermen’s Association (CCWA) will build and display its crab pot tree in Solomons. Proceeds from the sale of painted buoys will go to the Solomons Mission Center, a food and clothing bank.
“We were excited at the opportunity to give back to the community that supports us,” says Rachel Dean, board member of the CCWA. “At our annual boat docking competition, we were asked in the final hours of planning to gather canned goods from the spectators for the Mission. We couldn’t quite make it happen, so we started brainstorming other ways to give back…When we came up with the tree, supporting the Mission in our first year made sense.”
Around the Bay, some groups use decorated crab baskets while others build a tree out of metal crab traps. For the Calvert Watermen’s tree, organizers have created a mashup.
“The basket trees in Kent Island and Rock Hall were certainly an inspiration, and the organizers of both were more than willing to share their experiences,” says Dean. “But we wanted to do something a little different. We also knew that wooden baskets could be hard to come by, and we did not want to compete with crabbers in the industry. In the Northeast, lobstermen build their trees using lobster buoys. We figured, why not crab pot buoys? The buoys set us apart…and are a little easier to paint. We will build the tree with crab pots instead of baskets and trim the tree with the painted buoys.”
Dean says the association set a goal to sell 100 buoys, and they were very close to achieving that at press time. “We are going to have to wait until Saturday to find out. And to see how many pots it will take. At their heart, watermen are engineers, and we will have to wait and see what they come up with.”
Several of the region’s crab pot/basket trees went up right after Thanksgiving, but many will hold special lighting events this weekend and next (see list below). Most will remain up for display after Christmas.
Organizers of the Calvert County tree hope theirs will become a regular stop for holiday visitors looking to capture some Bayfront magic. “It is always fun to bring the community together for a good cause,” says Dean. “People are excited, and that makes it all worth it—not to mention Solomons is a great place to be at Christmas time.”
Where to see crab pot trees:
Cambridge, Md., at Gay and Race Streets
Chesapeake City, Md., at Bohemia Avenue
Crisfield, Md., at the City Parking Lot
Calvert County Waterman’s Association, Solomons, Md., J.C. Lore Oyster House, lighting Dec. 2
Rock Hall, Md., bulkhead on Main Street, lighting Dec. 2
Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Association at the Crab Deck, 3032 Kent Narrows Way (near the Maryland Watermen’s Monument), lighting Dec. 2
Anne Arundel Watermen’s Association in Deale, Md., at 5801 Deale Churchton Rd., lighting Dec. 2
Northern Neck, Va., 314 Northumberland Hwy, Callao, Va., lighting Dec. 3
Talbot County Watermen’s Association:
-St. Michaels at Kastel Brothers, 1106 S. Talbot St., lighting Dec. 8
-Tilghman Island at the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, lighting Dec. 16