With Ice Caves Closed, Locals Muse On Burst Of Celebrity

sightseers walk to the ice caves on Lake Superior, January 2014
Sightseers walk to see the ice caves on Lake Superior on Jan 14, 2014  Photo: ::Alan:: (CC-BY-SA)

Along with the crush of visitors to the Apostle Islands ice caves over the past two months has come a crush of notebook wielding, camera-toting journalists. Locals, however, aren’t letting the new found fame go to their heads.

Cheryl O’Bryon of nearby Cornucopia says she’s been interviewed by five TV stations, 11 radio stations, “and I don’t even know how many newspaper interviews, I’m not even sure,” she said. “It’s crazy. Actually, all the locals are just laughing at us because ‘Oh my gosh, where is all this coming from?’”

Apostle Islands Resources Manager Julie Van Stappen says the ice caves have been featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, The Daily Beast, The Weather Channel, Reuters, USA Today, AP, the Wall Street Journal, Al-Jazeera, NPR, and Australia’s Seven Network… to name just a few.

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“Most of the people I have dealt with have been pretty excited because it’s a feel-good story and they don’t get the opportunity to do that so often,” Van Stappen said, “and it’s a good excuse for reporters to get out and see the beautiful caves as well.”

She says all this publicity may increase year-round visitor numbers from the usual 160,000 to new levels. “The local community certainly thinks it will. I guess we’ll see, but I have a feeling that we’ve been discovered.”

As for Cornucopia’s O’Bryon? She says it’s been a wild ride. “My father-in-law saw me in Arizona, my brother saw me in North Carolina, then yesterday I had a girlfriend call me from Madison and one from Milwaukee and they both saw me on the morning news there.”

But fame, O’Bryon said, won’t change the people of this village of just 100. “Most everybody’s really happy about it,” she laughed. “Of course, you have a few locals who want their town back, as they say, but it’s all good.”