Cambridge Keeps up with Holiday Tradition: Bushel Basket Christmas Tree
Once again, Cambridge Main Street Executive Director Brandon Hesson has spent countless hours making this Christmas tree come to life.
“I want people to really associate with it,” Hesson said. “The watermen in this city are such an important part of our history.”
This tree was the product of a collaboration between a few merchants and Main Street. The merchants started the conversation after seeing crab pot trees in Tilghman Island, lobster pot trees up north. Hesson figured how about a tree made of crab bushel baskets?
“Everybody kind of looked at me and said that would look cool but it might just blow over…” Hesson said, with a chuckle.
Starting his own non-profit at age 19, Hesson was familiar with building “whacky, cool things,” as he called them, so he figured he’d give this a try. He started experimenting in his backyard, once he knew the tree was feasible, he decided he’d start creating one downtown.
“Ninety percent of that tree was working in the water this summer,” Hesson said. “We used old buoys as ornaments, there were still barnacles on them with chipped paint so we added greenery and a bow on it.”
The bushel baskets for this tree are completely repurposed. They are loaned to Main Street from J.M. Clayton Seafood Company, which is right down the street, as well as Lindy’s Seafood. In total, Cambridge Main Street receives about 250 bushel baskets.
“I don’t change the baskets any,” Hesson said. “Some of the baskets even have legs in them—they will have crabs in them next year.”
Hesson said this year’s tree building went a lot smoother. Last year’s construction took about 12 hours and this year’s construction only took about nine. This year’s tree is three feet taller, making it just above 20 feet, which was the goal.
“It’s a super secure, very sturdy structure, you have to plan for wind and snow,” Hesson said. “We’ve probably overdone it a little bit just so I can make sure I can sleep at night.”
Cambridge Main Street also added more lights and more ornaments this year.
“I want it to still look like bushel baskets and be basic, not a gaudy, obnoxious thing in the center of town,” Hesson said. “It still smells like crabs which makes it feel more authentic!”
Hesson said the group did not expect the idea to take off like it did, but they are happy it did. Next year the group is entertaining the idea of allowing residents to buy an ornament for $5, decorate it and put it on the tree in order to involve the whole community.
“I want that tree to sit in there with 150 people’s ornaments on it!” Hesson added.