You know the drill. A friend e-mails you an inspirational story, wonderful words of wisdom or something nostalgic that makes you smile. A recent e-mail I got about Belle Isle did just that. It had terrific old pictures of that not only made me smile … it brought back some great memories. I thought I would share those pictures with you.
I grew up on the other side of the state but when we came to visit family here we took many trips to this treasure island. As a kid I was wide-eyed when I first saw the James Scott Memorial Fountain. Did you know it cost $500,000 to build and old James … a man with a questionable reputation … left the City of Detroit $200,000 for the fountain in tribute to himself? Since his reputation was anything but stellar several community and religious leaders spoke out against the fountain but it was built anyway.
It is 510 feet across. Its central fountain could spray water 125 feet into the air. It has 109 water outlets in the shape of dolphins, turtles, lions and human figures.
I remembered picnics and hikes with family members … and being in awe that I could stand on the shore and look at another country. Later memories were of company baseball games and lunches on Belle Isle after I moved here. I also remembered being chased by seagulls that wanted to share that lunch. Point of reference: Some of them are sky rats. Good memories.
Today, Belle Isle needs sprucing up. Some of that will be done for the Grand Prix this June. Another group, the Belle Isle Conservancy, is working with the City of Detroit to bring more private and public resources to the park. The Conservancy was formed in the fall of 2011, through a merger of four existing nonprofits – Friends of Belle Isle, Belle Isle Botanical Society, Belle Isle Women’s Committee and Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium. You can check out its website for more great pictures and you can also volunteer your time and talents. Plant daffodils in the fall. Help with the spring clean up. Help keep invasive plants off the island. Help plan events. Get involved.