County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Clare's Ice Tree from the 1980's

34 Years Ago in Clare, Michigan


Clare Sentinel, 1988

34 Years Ago in Clare, Michigan

Clare’s ice tree in the city park was turned on last Tuesday and is growing daily. A steady stream of water sprays from the top falling on several Christmas trees inside a thirty-foot steel framework.

Gaylord has had an ice tree for years and was very helpful in providing information for the design of the Clare tree.

A number of years ago an ice tree was started in the then vacant lot in downtown Clare, now occupied by Her Place, next to Downtown Drugs. The tree was forming nicely until winter weather turned fickle-thawing, freezing, sunshine, thawing, freezing. The spray at the top of the tree was coming from a sprinkler can nozzle. The water had to be turned on and off whenever temperatures were above freezing. Al Iacco, A.J.Doherty and I [Al Bransdorfer]  took turns turning the water on at night and off during the warming days..

 An Irish flag was placed at the top of the tree. That disappeared and was replaced with a MSU flag, replaced by a UofM flag, replaced by a Clare Fire Association flag, replaced by a Polish flag and on and on. You never know what flag would be at the top.

Sand was needed around the tree to keep the water from spreading. A truckload of sand was brought in. Unfortunately, the sand contained chloride-great for melting ice.

That lot had been occupied by the Dunlop Building which burned in a fire nearly twenty years ago and had a common wall with Downtown Drugs building.

Where was all the water going? Walked next door and asked Bill Barz to check the basement of his drug store.

That’s where all the water was. A lot of merchandise was stored in the basement but fortunately the basement floor sloped east and few items were stored there.

The water to the ice tree was turned off and so ended Clare’s first attempt at an ice tree.

This year [1988], Iacco presently Clare’s mayor, visited Gaylor and received some up-to-date detailed information on a new ice tree with a much smaller spray nozzle.

City crews built the new tree framework and ran a water line to the tree.

If Clare has a normal cold winter, we should have a huge tree. Flood lights will illuminate the tree early next year.


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