The festival includes tree adoptions, vendors, food, live music and tree climbing
WINDERMERE Trees will be the stars of the show in Windermere this weekend in celebration of Florida Arbor Day.
To commemorate the day, the Windermere Tree Board is hosting the 13th annual Windermere Treebute from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Windermere Town Square and Central Park.
“It’s just a wonderful outing to get the family outdoors to celebrate Arbor Day,” said Theresa Schretzmann-Myers, chair of the Windermere Tree Board.
To kick off the festival, a tree-planting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19 at Windermere Town Hall Square. The ceremony will include a Mayoral proclamation, a police color guard, children singing tree songs, a planting of the Arbor Day tree and refreshments.
The purpose of the annual festival is not only to help increase the tree population in Windermere but also to raise money for Windermere’s Urban Forestry program.
“We’re a small forestry program, so we don’t have a large tax base,” Schretzmann-Myers said.
Keeping the program thriving means the board can maintain Windermere’s 20-year Tree City USA designation.
“We have a very historic tree canopy,” Schretzmann-Myers said. “As older trees are aging out, we want to replace them with younger Florida trees.”
This is where the tradition of planting trees on Arbor Day comes into play, but the cost of planting trees has steadily climbed over the last several years.
“Trees have doubled and tripled in price because theres a shortage of trees (at nurseries),” Schretzmann-Myers said. “So we ask for donation if you’re going to get second or third tree or if you’re not a Windermere resident.”
But the donation cost is significantly cheaper than purchasing a tree, Schretzmann-Myers said.
National Arbor Day is typically celebrated across the U.S. at the end of April, but Florida celebrates the day earlier than most due to its warmer climate.
Late January is the best time to plant trees in Florida because it gives them a chance to become established before the hot summer months arrive, Schretzmann-Myers said.
“We encourage folks to plant the right trees at the right times,” she said. “It’s really important that you educate folks about it.”
A variety of Florida-native trees will be available for adoption and sale at the Windermere Town Square. Windermere residents may adopt one tree per household, and the trees are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Saturday’s Treebute festival will also feature an “Ask the Arborist” booth and a UF/IFAS mobile plant clinic where people can get additional information about trees, plants and gardening.
The festival also features kid-friendly tree activities, including the Kids Tree Climb, which gives children the chance to climb trees alongside professional, certified arborists. But for those who prefer to stay on the ground, “Enchanted WalkAbouts” with naturalist John Springer will be offered throughout the day.
The day’s festivities will also include food trucks, artists, craft vendors, live music and the “Geezers in the Treezers” Tree Climbing Competition where certified arborists from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain over age 40 will compete in 5 different tree climbing competitions.
“It’s a great family event,” Schretzmann-Myers said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].