Dartmouth Introduces Custom ‘Buoy Tree’ This Christmas Season
I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but I can appreciate a masterpiece when I see one. That's exactly what this year's Christmas tree in Padanaram is; a work of art.
Molly Armando is one of the Founders of the Dartmouth Moms Group at Saint Peters Episcopal Church in Padanaram. She and Nicole Kloss started the group back in September.
"We hosted the Fall Festival in October and it drew a crowd of nearly 500 people," Armando said. "It was so wonderful to see the community come together again."
Armando and Kloss then partnered with the Padanaram Business Association to help plan the annual Christmas event in the village.
"Someone mentioned that it would be nice to include a tree lighting ceremony this year since that's not something we've ever had before," Armando said. "We couldn't find the right tree and it was difficult to get one brought in. I thought of how friends would take Christmas photos in front of trees made from lobster traps and figured the buoy tree idea would work just as well."
Since Dartmouth is very much a coastal town, the concept was embraced by all and the committee ran with it. Armando purchased 350 buoys from local distributors in New Bedford and then sold them to community members for $5 each just to cover the cost to buy them. These buoys were then decorated and returned to the church to be placed on a giant structure located at the Maritime Center where Water and Bridge Street connect just before the Padanaram Bridge.
"Jenn Santo, Doug Amaral, and their family are the ones who built the structure," Armando said. "They even purchased and donated the supplies to make this a reality."
Armando did not realize that this idea would take off the way it did.
"It’s been so cool to see how people are creative in different ways," Armando said. "This has brought so many people together at a time when we need it most. People have made me cry with their kind words about the project. And it's not even done yet."
There are still about 50 more buoys waiting to be displayed. Any that don't end up fitting on the tree will be placed on the walkway leading up to it. A star will soon top the tree after a few adjustments have been made.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will have the honor of performing the tree lighting ceremony at the holiday stroll. The Holiday Festival will take place on Saturday, December 4 from 11 am to 4 pm. Previously held as a nighttime event, the coordinators decided to change things up this year.
“We wanted to switch it up because it kind of turned into a late-night drinking affair that it was never meant to be,” Armando said. “We want this to be a family-friendly event that community members of any age can enjoy.”
Armando explained that the Padanaram Buoy Tree will be on display until early January. Those who provided a buoy for this year’s tree will be able to take theirs back. If they choose to donate the one that they designed, it will be included in an online auction.
“Proceeds received from the auction will go to the Dartmouth Moms Group to help fund future events and a portion will be donated to Dartmouth United Outreach Program,” Armando said.
The Dartmouth United Outreach Program is the organization behind the white signs with the green hearts featuring the word “hope.” Its mission is to support local food banks and pantries that distribute to people in need within the SouthCoast community.
The blank buoys are currently sold out, but the plan is for the tree to return in 2022 so you'll have another chance to participate next year.