It will be a tree-top experience utilizing zip lines, rope bridges, suspended platforms and many other creative methods to go from tree to tree. It will provide guests with a unique perspective of the tree canopy, just like an animal would move about the forest.
The company is based out of Quebec, but consists of several staff from France and Germany as well as the French Canadians.
This truly is an international work force and they have hired a few locals to assist them. Our own mini-United Nations in the trees.
After working very hard all day, the crew enjoys going out for few drinks and dinner in downtown Sanford. I have had the pleasure of escorting them around town to some of our local watering holes and restaurants. This opportunity has given me a new perspective on the offerings our little town has to offer.
It is very interesting to see Sanford from an outsider’s perspective. These guys have no preconceived notions or “history” with the town. Most of the crewmembers have lived all over Europe and seen lots of towns both big and small.
They absolutely love downtown Sanford!
They are very excited to have such a collection of eclectic and interesting places to go within minutes of the zoo.
They enjoy all the restaurants but especially like Two Blondes & a Shrimp for the “southern cuisine.”
Another day we stumbled into the Willow Tree Cafe and they were shocked to get authentic German food and music in downtown Sanford!
The one dude from Berlin sat with his mouth open for the longest time trying to figure out if he went through a space and time warp.
We wandered down to Big Fish Little Pond for a bit of eclectic charm, then for diversity we went to Jason’s Martini Bar.
Each week we visit a new tavern, one with a sand floor, another with biker posters all over the walls, a wine bar and yet another overlooking Lake Monroe.
But without a doubt, each and every Thursday the international favorite has been The Alley. They love to go and listen to “this American Blues,” as they call it.
The point to all this is not to reveal my drinking problem but really to look at Sanford from a different perspective, bringing in new people and showing them an alive, vibrant night life that rivals a lot of towns across Florida.
The bars and taverns are often maligned for creating problems or attracting the “wrong kind of people,” when that is not the case at all. In fact, I have seen many of you out as well, enjoying some adult beverages and conversation while listing to music.
We all spend a lot of time debating what Sanford will be, what it is turning into and even what the slogan should be, as if that will change the town.
I consistently hear from people about what is wrong with downtown, what we need more or less of, and the problems with the retailers and which kind of businesses we need more of.
But in reality, from an outsider’s perspective, they don’t notice the empty storefronts or other “issues.” They only notice the active, alive and energized downtown that comes to life each evening.
They notice the great shops and all of the other interesting features. They notice the lack of crime and the ability to walk from bar to bar and go in any of them and be welcomed. (Apparently that is not the way it is in most of Europe.)
All of these features are unique to Sanford and a goal of most towns across America is to energize the downtown after 6 p.m. We have that here, and the value of that is often overlooked.
We need the historic district, the economic housing, the condos, the shops and, yes, the bars as well. Each element relies on the other.
It is in the mix, the eclectic diversity, that Sanford derives character. Seeing it from the perspective of these “outsiders” has really given me the opportunity to appreciate our town for what it is.
I am enjoying watching it turn into what it will be.
In all of this one thing stands out: Sanford has a distinct flavor and personality that like fine wine or tequila needs to be savored, nurtured and enjoyed for what it is: Eclectic, charming, unique and the perfect mix of talented beautiful people and places waiting to be explored.
Now if I could just remember where I parked my car…
Joe Montisano is the CEO of the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens and the immediate past chairman of the Sanford Chamber of Commerce. Comments can be sent to him at JoeM@CentralFloridaZoo.org or Herald publisher Gene Kruckemyer at GKruckemyer@MySanfordHerald.com. Topics for The Sanford Herald’s Centennial Forum opinion series are chosen by the community writers.