DELAVAN — Winter can get long in Wisconsin and sometimes you have to get creative to pass the time and go online to get ideas.
Like many ideas, Lake Delavan’s ice carousel near Lake Geneva started online.
“We got the idea like any fool does, off the internet,” said Greg Gifford, a local Shorewest realtor. “We finally got it figured out. It takes a team.”
There was a video of a large circular-cut piece of ice rotating with the help of a motor in a lake in Finland. Gifford and Kurt Kiekhafter thought it looked like fun.
They assembled a team of friends and that is how the first Delavan Lake ice carousel got its start in 2018, on the lake near Inn Between Bar and the Delavan Yacht Club.
“It looked a lot easier than what it ended up being,” Kiekhafter said. “This is about eight hours of cutting we had to put into this.”
Since the first year they have tried to make it an annual one-day event, although they had to cancel in 2020 because the ice wasn’t thick enough.
This year, the ice thickness was not a problem. On Saturday, Feb. 27, the ice on Lake Delavan was about 18 inches thick, said Kiekhafter.
The only problem there was that it made it more difficult to cut through the ice with chainsaws, which was done on Friday to prepare for the Saturday event.
As part of the process they drill a hole and put a metal pipe in and take a 52 foot cable and make a circle. Then it’s time to start cutting.
Once its cut, to get it started they drive a couple of ice screws into the ice and connect a rope to an ATV and pull it to grind the edge and get the momentum going. From there, a 2.5 HP trolling motor takes over the work.
“Once you get it started, it just keeps going,” Kiekhafter said.
On Saturday, adults, children and dogs all enjoyed the twirling ice carousel, with families encouraged to watch their children closely near the edge.
“As long as people respect the ice, which you should do with whatever you are doing on ice, it’s all good,” Gifford said.
While it take a lot of work to get it going, “The smiles on their faces, it’s worth it,” Gifford said.