Minnesota lake neighbors carve 50-foot 'ice carousel'

“We were feeling that everybody is a little stuck right now, and could use some joy and excitement.”

Once completed, the ice carousel was enjoyed both by those looking for new activities and those looking to relax. Submitted Photo
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BREEZY POINT, Minn. — In the winter months, and during a shelter-in-place order, sometimes people need to be creative to stave off cabin fever.

A group of neighbors did just that when they constructed a 50-foot “ice carousel” on the frozen surface of Pelican Lake in Crow Wing County, Minn.

The group of families with homes and cabins in the “old Camp Laura” area of the lake are always eager to find new and interesting outdoor activities, so they took to the lake on Saturday, Dec. 5, with their chainsaws to make a spinning disk of ice, measuring 50 feet in diameter. They completed the project in just a few hours.

Shaun Rowley and his neighbors took to Pelican Lake on Saturday, Dec. 5, to cut a 50-foot ice carousel. Submitted Photo


“We found the center and got 25 feet of rope,” Shaun Rowley said. “Then we just went in a circle like we did in math class in grade school … You see these online, but nobody makes a how-to video on creating an ice carousel.

“Then we just threw an electric trolling motor on it. It spins around 2 or 3 mph, which is kind of a perfect sweet spot where you can sit on it and enjoy it, or you can skate around it, but you know you won’t feel dizzy.”

At first the 6-inch-thick carousel was simply used for more active entertainment, with the groups’ kids taking to skating on the disk in the opposite direction that it rotated. After a short while, however, the group realized the carousel could be used more as a unique hangout spot.

“We thought that this could actually be relaxing and enjoyable, so we threw on a couple of chairs and a firepit,” Rowley said. “Of course, like anything else up north, you start to do something good and you just want to add to it. By the end of the night, there were tiki torches and fireworks involved.”

With tiki torches lit, the Christmas tree shining and fireworks blasting off from the spinning platform, Rowley took a video that has been viewed on Facebook more than 25,000 times and shared 300 times, with dozens of comments complimenting their handiwork and thanking them for sharing this unique moment. Rowley has even fielded calls from across the country answering questions about the carousel.

“We were feeling that everybody is a little stuck right now, and could use some joy and excitement,” Rowley said. “It was awesome for us to experience it, but I don’t think anybody thought we would be spreading holiday cheer to everybody else that may need it even more. That has been a pretty awesome outcome that we didn’t expect.”

Rowley said that, though they are always looking for new projects and activities, he would not mind seeing the building of an ice carousel become a new holiday tradition.


“Hopefully, this becomes something that we can do again,” Rowley said. “I do think it is one of those cases where you kind of have to wait for the ice to be perfect, and that doesn’t always happen. In a year where there hasn’t been a lot of luck, we have been on the lucky side for this.”

“I think people are just loving that this happened, and it happened in our area," he said.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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