CADILLAC — The Cadillac ice tree is starting to take shape nicely at its new location next to the Cadillac-Wexford Public Library and can be seen clearly from the other side of the lake.
Cadillac Director of Utilities Jeffrey Dietlin said while ice accumulation has been slower this winter owing to above-average temperatures during December and January, a recent cold snap has gone a long way toward giving the tree a solid base.
"Should be a good week for building the tree this week," Dietlin said Monday. "We think we are in a lot better spot this year."
Last January, the ice tree that city crews have been building at the Chris Blackburn Memorial Skatepark since 2015 toppled over as a result of heavy, uneven ice buildup and gusty winds.
To create the tree, workers hoist water nozzles high above the ground on a pole and when temperatures are cold enough, they turn on the water, which sprinkles down through a wire wrapping around the pole and freezes to form the rough shape of a tree.
This winter, Dietlin said they decided to relocate the ice tree to an empty parking lot adjacent to the library.
Dietlin said the new location is easier to access than the skatepark, which required people to park in a lot across the street and walk.
Another benefit of the new location is that it's farther from the road than the skatepark, making it less likely to cause ice buildup on the sidewalk or street from wayward mist.
To make the tree more sturdy and able to withstand ice buildup and strong winds, Dietlin said they also added several anchor lines.
The first couple of years building the tree was a learning experience for Dietlin, who figured out that it isn't a good idea to use a real tree as the foundation for the ice tree: the year he did that, it snapped in two and the tree turned into an amorphous blob of ice.
Dietlin said he originally got the idea of building the tree from Gaylord and Alpena, which both create similar ice trees during the winter.