Belle Isle The New State Park


We once drove in circles for hours and hours. I could be with family barbecuing for a reunion. Girls were every-where. Guys were just in the way. They were in my way anyway. Teenage years are some of the best times of one’s life. I don’t know how teenagers in the City of Detroit the generation behind mine came up here without living it up on this rock. As a child, Belle Isle was most known for the Giant Slide. Even though it’s still there I scratch my head as to why it’s no longer a phenomenon. It was iconic in the 80’s and 90’s. There was always a second option for going to the zoo in Detroit. Belle Isle is not what it used to be. But it is now an ideal location for photography and videography.

Now a husband and father, this island still has the same feel. I just share it in different ways. I now see the whole island. All the monuments, the statues, the landmarks and the other things that I took for granted as a child really stand out now. The casino is a nice venue for events. My crew and I recorded a wedding at the Belle Isle Conservatory in the summer of 2015. The reception took place at the Belle Isle Casino. It has nice architecture.

Before my wife and I got married, we each had a dog that came from the same litter. They were mixed with Rottweiler, German Sheppard and Labrador. Once we took them to the beach on the Canadian side of the island and threw sticks into the water and the dogs would fetch them. Back then I wasn’t into the media field and we didn’t have smart phones. That was around 2002.

The Conservatory was a venue that wasn’t very attractive as a child but now that I am in the video and photo world it’s like my new playground for me. The way that the bushes are well kept and the beautiful flowers that are inside and out is a real life definition of the cliché, “Stop and Smell the Roses.” It is beautiful.

The water fountain with the lions was always cool but that too I look at differently. I would always see it and think to myself “that is a nice scene.” It wound up being the place where my wife and I took pictures with our wedding party between our wedding and reception. It was fun and memorable. It wasn’t premeditated but just a spare of the moment thought.

The beach was always a place to have fun as a child. I remember going there during our yearly family picnic. It was really the highlight of the picnic for us outside of going to the Giant Slide. I mean it’s the beach. Now I have been to plenty of beaches in my lifetime and Belle Isle is not ranked near the top but back then that was our beach. We did a lot of other things during the family picnic like potato sack races, badminton, and basketball but after all that we couldn’t wait to build sand castles and play Marco Polo in the Detroit River. I see many photographs on Instagram now that models take photos at that very beach.

I enjoy the Detroit Grand Prix that comes here every year and I was actually disappointed that the race was taken away from the downtown streets. There were a few years that the race wasn’t held in Detroit, which was a bummer. When I heard that the race was coming back to the city I was excited but a little bit disturbed that it would resurface on Belle Isle. I just remember the cars racing loudly though the city. Echoing off the tall buildings and many streets being shut down for the weekend. Belle Isle is a great scene for the race although the tradition is a bit different on the Island. I can’t help but to think of all the posters that come from photos that are taken on Belle Isle just for this event.

The zoo on Belle Isle was an alternative to going to Royal Oak to the Detroit Zoo. It wasn’t as nice but as a child I didn’t compare the two. There is now a small nature zoo that has some animals and the aquarium is still there also. These are places that I can take my kids and let them enjoy the amenities of this great island.

I see Belle Isle as an untapped rock that isn’t often used to its full potential. There are some events that go on there and I am looking forward to more coming. I think that taking photos and making videos on Belle Isle has boundless limits. The State of Michigan now owns the island and I hope that there is some new things to come that will enhance what a great place this is.

#BelleIsle #Videography #Michigan #JasonASmith #Park #StatePark #Photography #RoyalOak #DetroitZoo #StateofMichigan #Business #RotWilder #GermenSheppard #Labrador #BelleIsleConservatory #City #BelleIsleCasino #GiantSlide #DetroitRiver #MarcoPolo #DetroitGrandPrix

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Images provided by Jason Smith Stephen Brace and Jason Hargrove