Buoys brighten new holiday tree in Padanaram

Nov 16, 2021

Padanaram businesses and a local mother’s group hope a new holiday tree will buoy seasonal spirits.

The tree will be made of buoys painted by area individuals and organizations to create a nautical-themed holiday look organizers say is appropriate for the town and the tree’s location at the Maritime Center, Water and Bridge streets, adjacent to the Padanaram Bridge.

Members of the Padanaram Business Association and the Dartmouth Moms Group at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church wanted to add a tree lighting to the traditional activities at the Padanaram Holiday Stroll, to be held Dec. 4.

There was only one problem, said Moms Group member Molly Armando.

“We walked around the village and there were no [suitable] trees,” she said.

So, inspired by photos of trees made of nautical items such as lobster pots, she developed the idea of a tree made from buoys.

The business association, she said, was “all for it.’’

Armando purchased 350 buoys, buying out entire inventories from ship supply companies in New Bedford. 

The message was sent to the community that decorated buoys were needed to fill the tree. 

She then sold them for $5 each, to recoup her costs.

Decorated buoys have been dropped off by the cartful on the lawn at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 351 Elm St. Designs vary and have included the Dartmouth Indian, glued shells, a snowman, peace signs, hearts and traditional striping. 

Undecorated buoys are available on the lawn and completed buoys can be dropped at the church until Nov. 20.

She specifically did not set guidelines for the designs, to encourage creativity and individuality. 

“We want people to have the freedom to do what they want,’’ Armando said. “For people who are creative, it’s so fun to see what people come up with.’’

“I didn’t expect it to blow up this much,’’ she added. “So many people reached out to me to say thank you.’’ 

One challenge was building a frame sturdy enough to accommodate the buoys, which are heavier than traditional ornaments.

But Doug Amaral, the cousin of a friend of a friend, stepped up to secure the supplies and build the frame, which can be used each year.

 The buoys are expected to be placed on the tree as early as this weekend, Armando said. 

She expects the tree to be in place through early January. After that, people will likely be able to take their buoys back to decorate again next year. Organizers are considering hosting a silent auction after the holiday to sell some of the buoys.

The exact time of the tree lighting is still being determined, but they have secured a special guest to light the tree: Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who has a home in town.

Apparently, Polito shops at one of the businesses sponsoring the event. When she heard about the tree, Armando said, she was willing to be the first to light what organizers hope will be an annual Padanaram tradition.

“People are really excited to be part of something,’’ she said. “People are craving something to make them happy.’’