BEALS ISLAND, Maine — It wasn’t the smell of balsam that swirled around a Christmas tree at Perio Point on Thursday afternoon — it was the aroma of bait bags.
Kept from lobstering by fierce winds, a group of fishermen were stacking lobster traps into the shape of a Christmas tree, trying to set a world record.
Rockland currently holds top honors, having built a 38-foot-high Christmas tree with 152 traps. That community is hosting a television crew from the Discovery Channel today for a special to air in 2011 on unusual holiday trees.
But by midafternoon Thursday, the Jonesport-Beals tree already boasted 272 traps, and the fourth tier wasn’t even completed yet. While they weren’t sure how many tiers they would need, the lobstermen were hoping to get between 500 and 1,000 traps donated for the cause.
“We’ll do it,” Buddy Mills said, as he and four other men stacked the traps. “We’ll get that record.”
The Jonesport-Beals tree measured about 132 feet around and 14 feet tall after four tiers.
“We wanted a good, solid base,” Mills said. The first three tiers are made with four-foot-long traps. Three-foot-long traps were being added after that. The center of the tree also has sheets of plywood between the layers for stability, and when the tiers get higher, they will be wired together.
More than 20 fishermen have already donated 10-20 traps each for the effort and are offering their brightly colored buoys as decorations. The traps themselves are made of wire and are of various colors. The orange, blue, yellow, green and white traps will then be illuminated with floodlights.
Mills said that any other fishermen willing to lend traps for the project are invited to come down and help.
Mills said the Fourth of July Committee came up with the idea earlier this fall when planning for the annual Christmas Lobster Boat Flotilla held in Moosabec Reach.
The flotilla, which consists of up to 20 lobster boats and barges decorated with lights, figures and complete Nativity scenes, will be held Sunday, Nov. 28.
“We’ll kick off the Flotilla here at the tree,” Mills said. Carolers will gather around the tree at 5 p.m. He said the bridge and tree lighting will take place simultaneously at 5:30 p.m., when the flotilla will get under way and begin cruising back and forth in the Reach.
“It’s a way to bring the communities together,” Ray Fagonde added.