Westbrook’s world-famous ice disc has taken a bit of a beating from the weather and people, but it’s still hanging on. Barely.
“It’s still there,” said Westbrook Communications Director Tina Radel Monday. “You can still see the round shape in the middle. But you can see on the upper lefthand side (of aerial photographs), it’s lost its roundness a bit, and it’s kind of merged with other river ice.”
The once moon-like circle that grabbed international headlines and attracted crowds to the Maine city’s waterfront is starting to lose its shape. But Radel said she hopes the unexpected winter phenomenon has already done the work of introducing downtown Westbrook to a new group of visitors who may come back again — even after the mysterious attraction is gone.
And after the week its had, nobody could blame the ice disc if it needs a break. So to speak.
On Saturday, the city posted on Facebook that, “yes, there was a person on the ice chopping at it again,” less than two days after a New Jersey man climbed out to try carving a peace sign into it.
But the ice disc, which stretches about 100 yards in diameter and is among the largest ever reported, is tough. If it had shoulders, it would have shrugged it off.
Chris Horvat, a Brown University scientist studying the phenomenon, reportedly told Radel that the people with axes, try as they might, couldn’t “do anything that would stop it from doing what it wants,” saying that because ice weighs about a ton for every square meter, “that piece of ice may up to a thousand tons.”
The jagged line of the stunt man’s almost-peace sign may have been ugly, but it didn’t jeopardize the ice disc’s constitution.
Mother Nature, however, is a more formidable opponent. Warmer temperatures that approached 50 degrees and rain near the end of last week seemed to cut a jagged edge into the riverwalk side of the circle, while lodging it into place along the ice of the opposite shore.
Radel said she’s heard visitors who came to see the ice disc say they hadn’t realized there was a riverwalk in Westbrook, and that local businesses have told city officials they’ve noticed an uptick in customers — “people getting coffee, people getting lunch.”
“I’m hoping it will have a lasting impact, because now people know what downtown Westbrook has to offer, they may come back for the restaurants and the riverwalk,” she said.
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