Leipsic Christmas tree built from crab pots

Decorating the Town of Leipsic crab trap Christmas Tree are from left, Councilwomen Donna Ortelli, Deputy Mayor Martha Wilkerson and Linda Mozick. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

LEIPSIC — Borrowing the idea from Block Island, Rhode Island, Leipsic councilwoman Donna Ortelli has helped cultivate a new town tradition for their holiday centerpiece.

“Out on Block Island, they built theirs out of lobster pots, but we thought these crab pots would be more appropriate for us,” said Ms. Ortelli.

Leipsic’s new ‘Christmas tree’ is built out of stacked crab traps (regionally called crab pots) which are used in commercial and recreational crab fishing — something the town’s watermen are well known for in the state. The holiday display is located at Leipsic’s Town Hall on 207 Main Street.

“It’s our second year doing it and it’s pretty simple,” said Ms. Ortelli. “We just got some lights from Walmart, and the crab pots belong to Mayor Craig Pugh. This year we put some corks and buoys on it to that someone in town has been collecting.

The Town of Lepisic crab trap Christmas tree in front of town hall . Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“Residents really seem to like it. It’s sort of a way to celebrate the holidays while telling a story. Our little town is still a working waterfront and a lot of the people who live here still make their livelihoods by crabbing and fishing.”

When setting up the tree, Ms. Ortelli said she enlisted the help of other council members and a group of enthusiastic volunteers. She thinks next year that the town may try to make an event out of it.

“We’re thinking it might be fun to do a crab pot tree lighting maybe the Sunday after Thanksgiving,” she said. “We can have Santa show up for the kids and give out some cookies and hot chocolate — make more of an event out of it.”

Leipsic maritime museum

The small town of almost 200 residents has steadily been at work erecting another monument to its maritime history, noted Ms. Ortelli.

“We received a grant from DNREC for $20,000 to help us put in a maritime museum in the other half of Town Hall where the old school house is,” she said. “Progress is slow and steady, we’ve been working on it for about three years now. We’re working out parking right now.”

Holding a Merry Christmas sign, from left, Councilwomen Donna Ortelli, Deputy Mayor Martha Wilkerson and Linda Mozick next to the Leipsic crab trap Christmas tree Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Although the project is moving slowly and its completion date isn’t set, town government was encouraged by the response they saw at Leipsic’s inaugural Oyster Festival in October — an event set up to help fund the construction and maintenance of the museum.

“Our first Oyster Fest went incredibly well, we’re very excited about it,” said Ms. Ortelli. “Even though it ended up falling on a rainy day, we still had about 300 to 400 people show up. The lines to get oysters stayed long most of the day. That’s not bad for a first attempt. We’re going to do it again next year and hope to grow it. The state has even shown some interest in getting on board with it more-so next year as well.”

Ms. Ortelli said she didn’t know exactly how much the event raised for the museum after capital expenses were subtracted, but noted that the event did produce a profit.

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