The town of Windermere and the Windermere Tree Board are gearing up for three days of environmental festivities this weekend culminating with the 16th annual Windermere Treebute.
The Windermere Garden Club will hold an Arbor Day celebration and plant a tree in Town Square at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 16. Students from Windermere Union Church Preschool will sing songs and celebrate Florida's Arbor Day.
On Friday, Jan. 17, certification classes for tree climbers and arborists will be held in Windermere. Classes — such as How to Stay on Rope While Climbing, How to Hang High Lines and Hammocks in Trees, and Plant Healthcare & Disease Diagnosis — begin at 8 a.m. at Windermere Town Hall. Registration takes place before the class begins.
The 16th Annual Windermere Treebute will be presented by the Windermere Tree Board Saturday, Jan. 18, in Windermere Town Square. There will be a variety of trees and food for sale. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida Extension office will have representatives on hand to answer questions.
The Down Brothers Band will play throughout the day, Chief Todd Rowley will present a snake education program at 11, and there will be plenty of food and plants for sale throughout the day. Kids’ Alley will offer activities for children, including a rock wall, crayon rubbings, painting trees with leaves and planting their own plants, and children can put on harnesses and ascend into a tree with the assistance of professional tree climbers.
The highlight of the event, however, always is the international tree-climbing championship.
Previously called Geezers in Treezers, the event boasts a new name, Legends Tree Climbing Championship.
Chris Coates leads the competition, which is open to tree climbers 40 and older. Those younger than 40 who still wish to participate in the day can volunteer at the event and help with the children’s climb.
The multiple-day competition is to see who is the best climber. It begins the night of Jan. 17 and continues through the Masters climb Jan. 19.
Trevor Hill is one of the tree-climbers participating in the competition. The Apopka resident began his arboriculture career with Davey Tree, in Maitland, in 2011. He was introduced to competitive climbing in 2015 and said it sparked a whole new interest for him.
He volunteered with the children’s climb until he turned 40 — and then the competitive side of him kicked in.
“I soon found out that Legends is far more than just a competition and winning,” Hill said. “It's about the older-generation ‘Legends’ teaching and inspiring the younger generation by showcasing their knowledge and skills in the events and allowing them to judge us. … It's about making the public more aware of proper tree care and safety, as it always falls on the same weekend as the Windermere Treebute.”
The Legends tree-climbing championship is free, although donations will be accepted. Climbers do not have to be registered or certified to participate, however they must be directly involved with arboriculture, whether it is actively working or just having a passion to climb trees for recreation.
“Almost everyone attending the Treebute takes a walk around to watch the competition and ask questions,” Hill said. “It's about getting the kids into trees and loving nature with a kids’ climb that is open to the public. It's about getting together with friends from all over the world and sharing knowledge of new techniques and equipment. Most importantly it's about having fun — along with some bragging rights if you do win. I feel honored to be a part of such an amazing event, and we all welcome everyone.”