BROOKSVILLE — Wayne Ludwig grew up making fresh homemade holiday wreaths, crafted with tree branches he hand cut from Balsam pines. The fragrant trees grow in northern Wisconsin, practically in his backyard.
And he brought that piece of tradition to the corner of Cortez Boulevard and Fort Dade Avenue for a week in mid-December.
Ludwig, who lives in Wisconsin and is a professional drummer, found himself with a break between gigs. So, he traveled to Hernando County to visit his daughter, Tessa, and attend her graduation from Pasco-Hernando State College. He also packed his covered utility trailer with wreaths, hoping to attract customers who appreciate the northern tradition.
“These are hand-cut, handmade, hand-delivered balsam pine from a forest in northern Wisconsin,” he said.
For a week, Ludwig displayed his craftsmanship and sold about 150 wreaths. He and Tessa also donated one large wreath to Brooksville City Hall and a smaller one to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Ludwig said Tessa was the inspiration behind the endeavor. And the two are planning to make December wreaths an annual thing. “We’ll do it every time I come down,” he said.
The plan is to begin each season before Thanksgiving, he added, and sell wreaths for about a month. “I was late this year.”
Unfortunately, he also needed to limit his stay. “I have a Christmas party to play on the 15th,” he said, though he wasn’t thrilled to be leaving behind tropical temperatures for the balmy 15 degrees and two feet of snow that awaited him.
What didn’t sell by the end of that final day would be donated to Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit group, and placed on veterans’ gravesites at the Florida National Cemetery, in Bushnell.
“We did more than expected for our first year,” Ludwig said.
He and his daughter hope to have a website up soon. In the meantime, email Tessa Ludwig at email@example.com.