P.E.I. fishermen who died at sea to be remembered with special Christmas tree
'It can be a happy thing'
The Town of Tignish, P.E.I., is creating a memorial Christmas tree to honour local fishermen, including two who died at sea this fall.
Maurice (Moe) Getson and Glen DesRoches died when their fishing boat The Kyla Anne capsized in September.
"I'm hoping this is a spot that around the Christmas holiday when people get in front of the tree they do think about those two fishermen, along with so many other fishermen that have lost their lives out there providing for their families," said Tina Richard, recreation director for the town.
Many hands needed
The structure will be built of lobster traps — 150 to 170 of them — stacked six metres high in the yard of St. Simon and St. Jude Church.
It's really going to be something the community looks forward to each year.— Tina Richard
Richard had seen such trees in Cape Breton and in Newfoundland and Labrador in past years.
"We have one the biggest fishing communities on P.E.I., why don't we do this?" Richard said.
Some local fishermen are working with her to design the structure.
The town will be looking for volunteers to help build the tree on either Thursday or Friday, weather permitting — Richard said they'll advertise on the town's Facebook page. More people have volunteered to add boughs, and paint 22 donated fishing buoys bright red to add as ornaments.
'First Christmas without those gentlemen'
They're still searching for a topper for the tree — Richard is thinking it will be a large angel.
The community put out a call for help, looking for donations to buy 100 sets of LED lights. The local hardware store gave a deep discount to anyone who wanted to buy a set of lights for the tree to honour local fishermen.
"Some families bought two or three sets. Some families put them in memory of their lost ones," Richard said. "They didn't have to be lost at sea — some people just thought it was a good way to honour their father who was a fisherman all his life."
Some of Getson's and DesRoches's families have purchased lights, Richard said.
"It's the first Christmas without those gentlemen and for sure those families are going to feel that," Richard said. "If it gives them a few minutes of happiness, even if it's just their nieces and nephews or grandkids looking at this tree remembering those wonderful fishermen, that's done its job.
"It can be a happy thing."
They plan to light the tree Sunday evening around 8:30, after the youth talent show at the parish centre near the church.
Organizers are already coming up with ideas for next year's tree, Richard said, which is "so fun, it's really going to be something the community looks forward to each year."
More P.E.I. news
With files from Laura Chapin.