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The Belle Isle Ice Tree

I know it’s summer but this was one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen since moving back to Metro Detroit. And, hey, it’s supposed to be really hot today so this may cool you down a bit.

The Belle Isle Ice Tree has apparently been a tradition for years, some say since the 1960’s. It’s basically Christmas trees piled up with a pipe running through it. The top of the pipe has a spout that is constantly spraying water. The constant spray, coupled with the cold weather, adds layers upon layers of ice to this organic sculpture.

The Belle Isle Ice TreeWhen I was first walking out to it, everything was fine, crunchy ice under foot. I kept walking and then stopped. Whoa! I had walked a bit too close and was on rather dangerous ice. Slowly, I inched my way back. Did I mention that it was freezing cold? My fingers were numb.

Two girls were ice skating at a nearby pond while I was there. As I was snapping pictures, one of the girls started exploring the Ice Tree. If you have on proper footwear, ice skates or crampons, you can actually go into these minature ice caves.

Girl coming out of one of the caverns in the Ice Tree.In this Detroit News article about Detroit's worst snow storms you can see an early version of the Belle Isle Ice Tree. Actually, that article has a picture of 3 trees. Belle Isle, however, isn't the only Detroit appearance of such a sculpture. There was a similar ice tree on Washington Blvd. in front of the Cadillac Hotel, now the Book-Cadillac. And this picture, from Wayne State University, is an earlier incarnation of the Belle Isle Ice Tree.

I think the Ice Tree looks a bit like a Transformer or a lovable monster.So, I do apologize, but you're going to have to wait a good 6 or 7 months to see this yourself. And, I highly recommend seeing this in person. It is on the east side of Belle Isle and you can see it as you're driving on the bridge.

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