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The Chilling Truth: No Belle Isle Ice Tree in 2011?

I’ve been waiting patiently for the water to be turned on so that the Belle Isle Ice Tree can be transformed into its glorious self. I found out yesterday that the water might not be turned on at all this year.

According to the Belle Isle Administrative offices, there are electrical problems and it needs repairs. Maybe I’m a bit slow but “electrical problems”? It’s a water line, right?

For those not familiar with the underlying architecture of the Ice Tree, it looks like this:

The Belle Isle Ice Tree on January 26, 2011.

The Belle Isle Ice Tree circa February 2009.

The municipal Christmas trees that were used around the city are stacked around a pole. The top of the pole has a sprinkler. Cold weather and the spraying water create the sculpture that often includes cave-like crevices.

Will the water be turned on once the repairs are completed? Maybe.

If it’s still cold enough when the repairs are finished then the water might be turned on, I was told.

This makes me think that the repairs aren’t a priority and that they may not be completed anytime soon. Or, at least by March. I can’t see them turning the water on for the first time once March hits.

The most troubling part of this news is that the weather has been perfect for the Ice Tree this year. With Snowmageddon and freezing temperatures, 2011 could have produced a tree to rival the one in 2009.

The highlight of winter in Detroit for me is the Belle Isle Ice Tree. Its beauty makes the freezing cold weather and snow worth it. At least we had “Son of the Belle Isle Ice Tree” this year, right?

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Reader Comments (7)


I had never knew that they did that on Belle Isle.

You might also be interested in this. Up in northern Japan the constant snow turns the trees into this ghostly landscape.

February 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Williams

Eh. I think the ice tree is neat to look at, but I'm not going to be upset if it isn't repaired. There are too many other 'repairs' needed in Detroit and this really should be low on the priority list.

There are entire families going without water or electricity now, and taking time and money to fix THIS line seems unnecesary when you see it that way.

February 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterabbie

Yeah, I didn't know about it until January of 2009. Pretty awesome. Love the snow monsters of Japan! Thanks for sharing.

I get it. Detroit does certainly have a lot of other repairs to make besides this one. It's just a great tradition and quite the spectacle. And, I didn't quite believe the woman who told me it needed repairs.

February 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I drove to Belle Isle today with my daughter expecting to see ice...nothing but the tree.

February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I know, very disappointing. I've given up hope for an ice tree in 2011.

February 23, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

I went today to see it. The water is on, though in the beginning stages, it is very cool to see.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I was just there too and I was so excited to see the water on!

December 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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