After a bit of a bumpy start, a giant slide on Belle Isle was back in businesses over the weekend. The historic, 40-foot-tall attraction originally re-opened to the public on August 17 after a pandemic hiatus. It closed hours later after videos showed people riding down it being knocked around, banging their heads and backs on the slide and twisting sideways. These videos went viral and made international news.
Belle Isle Park Manager Karis Floyd says while it may seem like the slide is the butt of a lot of jokes, all the press has been a good thing.
“We’re spinning it to a positive,” says Floyd. “I just remind people that you got to listen to the instructions when you’re going down. That’s very, very important. Because you don’t want to get injured.”
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the state institution that has run Belle Isle and the slide since 2014, released an instructional video reminding riders to lean forward while going down the slide. Floyd says officers also scrubbed down the slide and have begun wetting it down between riders to create friction. The changes appear to have had an effect.
“People are complaining that it’s too slow,” says Floyd.
But some riders, like Kennedy Dirrell who rode the slide after it re-opened Friday, say it hasn’t been fully tamed.
“Really, it was crazy,” Dirrell says. She caught a little air and landed hard on the last bump. “It shook me a little bit but it was fun.”
Yusef Elhaddy of Canton screamed, “Hell yeah!” after getting to the bottom. “It was absolutely amazing. The thrill is astonishing. I loved it.”
Even Gmac Cash, the Detroit rapper who responded to viral videos of the slide by writing a song with lyrics such as, “It’s like jumping off a roof on the Giant Slide/ Man you can lose a tooth on the Giant Slide,” decided to try it out himself on Friday.
— Laura Herberg (@HerbergRadio) August 26, 2022
His trip down looked relatively smooth but he says it still made his heart pound.
“I ain’t getting back on it I know that,” Gmac Cash said, adding that he closed his eyes the whole time.
The rapper released an official video for the song on Sunday. When WDET asked him if he’s planning to make a remix now that he’s gone down the newly reopened slide he said, “Yeah, I’m gonna try to get a couple of people out here to get on the song with me.”