St. Pete woodworker turns century-old banyan tree into keepsakes for neighbors after it had to be torn down

Nick Reale has been turning wood for 10 years. 

"My wife wanted a birdhouse, so I made a birdhouse and it grew from there," he shared. "I kind of enjoyed it. I liked it."  

So, when the opportunity came about to help a community that was upset about losing their 100-year-old banyan tree, Nick sprang into action. 

"I thought, you know, maybe I can do something nice," he mused. "I have all the equipment and the ability and a willingness to do it." 

He got the tree company to bring the tree stump to his St. Petersburg woodshop. 

"So I milled it and cut it, gave it away to a lot of artists so that they can take it and do something with it, and in this way, the tree lives on and hopefully eases some of the pain in the neighborhood," Reale explained.  

That's not all the retired Pinellas Park firefighter paramedic did. 

"I made 20 or so small Christmas ornaments at Christmas time out of it and had those distributed through the neighborhood," Reale said.  

However, he had a bigger project in mind. 

READ Made in Tampa Bay: Bay Area woodworkers make big impacts on local businesses

"It takes a year for all the wood to dry and now that it is dried I created these bowls, cutting boards and cheese boards to distribute to the homeowners," he stated.  

Neighbors in the Grandville Court community were so thankful for his artsy wood creations. For Reale, it's just what he has always done. 

"I've been taking care of people in this county for 35 years. It's just in me that's the kind of person I was born and raised to be." 

Neighbor helping neighbors to make the world a better place.

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