We are lucky in New Iberia — we have ready shade and beauty all around us. We have magnificent live oak trees, some standing from before the Civil War. Sometimes, we take these sprawling, sheltering giants for granted.
Not Terry Romero. He’s begun producing a series of videos chronicling The Mighty Oaks of New Iberia. There are nearly 10,000 live oak trees in Louisiana that are registered by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation’s Live Oak Society. Several hundred of these are in the New Iberia area. To be registered by the society, a live oak must have a girth of 8 feet or greater. Those with a girth of over 16 feet are considered centenarian.
Romero just loves these mighty oaks, and he has begun putting them on video, registered or not. “It all started when I took my mother to a doctor’s appointment at Iberia Medical Center. I noticed the big oak tree at the front of the building, and thought, this would make a great video. It all mushroomed from there,” he said.
Romero, who calls his company Creative Cajun Productions, considers it “more or less a hobby. I’ve been doing videos for friends and family, weddings, parties and such, probably since the mid-80s. I started with a camcorder, and about six or seven years into it, I started buying more equipment, lighting and stuff. I’ve also done some videos for local bands as well.”
“I’m not really a professional production company, since it’s just me and I don’t have a crew or a $3,000 camera,” he said. “I’m basically self-taught. I’ve learned editing and effects software by myself. It’s amazing what you can pick up from watching YouTube.”
“Anyway, I enjoy it, and with the Mighty Oaks, I thought maybe other people would enjoy seeing them as well.” He uses a 360-degree high definition camera to get all angles of the oak tree. He also uses a drone to capture an aerial view. He reviews the footage and edits it together with music and effects.
After producing the video on the Iberia Medical Center oak, he began driving around the parish, on the lookout for live oak trees. His second video was produced featuring the live oaks on the grounds of the Shadows on the Teche. “There are 26 oaks at the Shadows that are on the registry,” he said. “Although I’ve lived here most of my life, I had never visited the Shadows. I wanted to video the oaks. It just so happened there was a craft show there, and so I went.”
Romero took his production a little further out of town for his third video. “I noticed a big, beautiful tree on the Loreauville Road near the roundabout, and I took video of it, and then several others in that area. I’m not sure if all of these are registered or not, but they absolutely make great videos.
Romero started posting his videos on Facebook, on his page and in several local groups. Facebook users can search ”Mighty Oaks of New Iberia” to find them. His current project is telling the story of “Big Al”, the 150-year-old live oak that was nearly axed as part of a Louisiana DOTD frontage road project. Thanks to the efforts of New Iberians and the Optimist Club, Big Al was moved, not destroyed, and currently lives a happy life at the corner of U.S. 90 and Weeks Island Road.
With the Festival of Live Oaks in City Park next weekend, what a perfect way to get ready. Discover Terry Romero’s “Mighty Oaks of New Iberia” video series, posted on Facebook as well as on YouTube.