WINDERMERE Amid the vast heritage of Windermere is perhaps an equally vast canopy of historic oaks and other trees, some of which might have seen all 100 years of the town's history and more.
Each year since 2001, residents have celebrated that heritage as a Tree City USA with the free Windermere Treebute Arbor Day Festival, which Windermere Tree Board chairwoman Theresa Schretzmann-Myers said has been one of few Florida events actually centered on Florida's Arbor Day.
“Arbor Day is in January for Florida -- it's not April like most of the rest of the 48 (contiguous) states -- because they do best in January while they're dormant,” she said. “They don't have to worry about the heat shock, stress and all that stuff, so Arbor Day is always the third Friday in January.”
Along with an Arbor Day Ceremony and Tree Planting at 10 a.m. Jan. 14, Windermere will sandwich Arbor Day with its Treebute from 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. Jan. 16, both in the Town Square. But Schretzmann-Myers is most enthusiastic about what Windermere will host from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Arbor Day.
“We also do ... a training of over 100 firemen, first-responders, arborists to deal with emergencies regarding power lines, trees and people,” she said. “The event is completely underwritten by the (Tree Care Industry Association), so we'd like to get that out to all of our first-responders, because ... they cannot touch that person unless they have the safety training. We provide lunch and they don't have to pay a dime.”
As for the Treebute, not much changes based on the longstanding tradition of Arbor Day, Schretzmann-Myers said, a testament to the dedication of many local botanical enthusiasts.
“Windermere Garden Club will be having special...heirloom plants -- donations from their members -- and for a donation, you can adopt a plant, so that's new this year,” Schretzmann-Myers said. “We also have some new varieties of tree, including the beautiful Florida native mahogany.”
The main focus, of course, is to plant trees – Windermere residents can get one tree for free – and learn everything planters should about healthy planting from experts at the “Ask the Arborist” booth, she said. But one event she is always excited about is the Geezers in Treezers tree-climbing competition, which involves participants from every state and other countries.
The Windermere Tree Board, Tree Climbing Concepts Training Team Inc. (TCCTT) Windermere Garden Club and Duke Energy Florida sponsor the festival, with proceeds supporting Windermere’s Urban Forestry program.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].