NEBRASKA CITY –  The designer of America’s first tree top village celebrated its opening at Arbor Day Farm on Saturday.

Jean-Michel Sarazin grew up in the Alps in the South of France, where his dad was a mountain guide, and  says he has always valued a lifestyle of being close to nature. He was involved in construction of his first adventure park 25 years ago and says he has never stopped.

Sarazin: “Five years ago I have this vision of creating a village of tree house and my partner and I would decide to inject the money and to deliver up one prototype.”

He said the “wow factor” of the Tree Top Village will draw people of all ages.

Sarazin: “Just because maybe it reminds us of the woods side of everybody who dream of going into a tree just like me, just like anyone, so, the fact to bring kids and having them be playing and, as the parents, you can also follow and enjoy this motion of the bridge moving and also the motion of the entire connection with the forest attached to it. It makes the experience very unique.”

The Tree Top Village features 11 tree houses connected by 800 feet of netted walkways and ramps. It has a 50-foot netted slide and the trampoline-like ‘wonder net’ high in the tree canopy.

Connie Van Nostrand of Arbor Day Farm said the “wonder net” is the first in North America and the tree top village is the first in the United States.

She said it helps make the Tree Adventure a great way to play in the trees.

Van Nostrand: “This is perfect for us, I mean, I think you guys would agree, we just played today. It’s three acres, up in the trees without touching the ground. So we just feel like it’s a great way to get families, all ages, out here having fun in nature.”

Sarazin said the design began with a visit to the site to understand the size of the trees and their place in the terrain. Tree houses are located to accommodate the tension on the steel cables and the type of tree determines how well it can support the weight of a tree house.

Sarazin: “All of this has an impact on the design. Basically, when I show up in a forest I ask the forest to talk to me, tell me what I’m supposed to do with you, so that’s my conversation with a forest.”

The construction technique requires drilling through the diameter of a tree and installing a sterilize rod. The installation is done to minimize air trapped alongside the rod to promote the tree’s healing.