The Effigy at Lakes of Fire is the pinnacle of the event. It is the first and largest sculpture at Lakes of Fire. Built by a wonderful crew of volunteers, the Effigy represents the community effort to build something bigger than ourselves. It's a place to play, reflect, relax and more. It's burned in a jubilant celebration on the final night of the event.
The Lakes of Fire Effigy now has a long history under its belt. Starting in the Beta year of LoF (Chicago-Detroit combined Decompression 2008) the idea was spawned that even a small burn like LoF Beta needed something huge to set ablaze. A 12'x20' by 9' high ‘factory' made out of old rotting pallets found in the woods, a bunch of old burlap, and some Willow sculptures to create a water tower on top and a smokestack on the side was lit by a giant ball made out of willow branches. While rough and almost unsightly, it represented a communal effort that has evolved into a spectacular culmination of the 4 day event for years to follow.
The following year, 2009, Lakes of Fire became an official regional event held in June. The Effigy jumped to new heights raising the bar to unforeseen levels. In 2009 the Effigy Crew blew the event away by building the SS Bacon, a 45' long, two-masted, six-sailed brig complete with hand-turned cannons on its deck. She was modeled after the USS brig Niagara, which served as the relief flagship for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie that won the Great Lakes from the British during the War of 1812. This Effigy rivaled any burn yet seen outside of BRC channeling the strength of her historical predecessor against her opponents on Lake Erie 200 years ago. Set ablaze at her masts she was one of the hottest and largest fires seen by most participants in Regional Burn history.
In 2010, keeping with the nautical theme of the Great Lakes the Bacon Beacon was erected. A 27' tall lighthouse, it was almost an exact copy of the Cheboygan Crib Lighthouse on Lake Huron. This Effigy was one of the first that was almost entirely built off site and transported in pieces to LoF. Burned on a completely still night the flames rose 60' into the air and the sparks even further, only to fall down exactly where they originated--a beautiful sight. 2010 was also the first year the Effigy Team incorporated pyrotechnics into the burn, creating a dazzling show for all to enjoy.
2011 took the nautical theme on a turn of fantasy with "Maybe Dick", a giant whale that spouted fire from its blowhole. Embarking on a new location for LoF, "Maybe Dick" stood proudly on the peninsula of Lucky Lake, keeping an eye on all of LoF. He also sported a geodesic forehead, winding interior stairs and an impressive flame effect that shot a 15' flame out of his blowhole. "Maybe Dick" reached beyond the literal interpretations of the past Effigies and asked, "What If?". This was the first year a flame effect was used on a LoF Effigy and the first year aerial fireworks were used on burn night.
2012 marked a new era for the LoF Effigy. Since the crew, some of whom had participated for 4 years already, were exhausted from the daunting task of building these monstrosities, it was time to spread the love and pass the torch. The Effigy Council was created. Consisting of past Effigy Leads and other major team players like Pyro Lead and Lead Carpenter, the Council's mission is to find new blood, new ideas and new vision for the famed Effigy department. Every year the Council will put a call out to the Great Lakes Community for Effigy Proposal Submissions. For 2012, many great designs were sent in, but only one could be picked. Working from a set of criteria, the Council was able to select a design and a new Effigy Lead for 2012. Thus began a structured tradition of passing the torch each year to a new lead while also mentoring and developing new leadership out of the community.
The future looks bright for the Lakes of Fire Effigy Project and the new process of sharing project leadership with a new community member each year. This tradition will burn into the future creating more and more combinations of communal effort just like the first Beta year that started it all.