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Eastpointe resident wins Belle Isle Aquarium Weathervane Design Competition sponsored by Butzel Long

DETROIT, Mich. – Eastpointe resident, Bruce Gerlach, 48, is making a meaningful mark
on history with his winning design as part of the recent Belle Isle Aquarium Weathervane Design Competition, which was sponsored by the Butzel Long law firm. Gerlach was announced as the winner of the competition at a private reception hosted by Butzel Long at the Belle Isle Aquarium on September 19, 2014. Gerlach will receive a $500 prize.

Gerlach, a freelance illustrator and sculptor, created a weathervane design that features a gar, a fish native to the Great Lakes, and four electric eels, which will adorn the Belle Isle Aquarium’s cupola. Butzel Long is underwriting the cost of the new weathervane.

The design competition, which took place in August, also celebrates the Belle Isle Aquarium’s 110 birthday and Butzel Long’s 160th anniversary. The competition was open to U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age. Twenty-five entries were submitted for the weathervane design competition.

“I had a historic and aesthetic design in mind,” said Gerlach. “The design is modeled from a spotted gar. The Belle Isle Aquarium is the only aquarium that houses all seven gar species. The long and narrow aspects of the fish lends itself perfectly for an ‘arrow’ to point at the wind’s direction.

“The gar has a history with the aquarium,” added Gerlach. “They were on display for many decades. In 1982, vandals poisoned the gar tank killing gar that swam together for 27 years. Former Channel 7 News Hawk, Jerry Stanecki, answered the public outcry by traveling to Mississippi and catching a gar for the Belle Isle Aquarium. In keeping with the connection to the aquarium, my design for the directionals include four electric eels just below the gar. The directionals will remain stationary as only the gar will move with the wind. The electric eel exhibit has been a favored attraction for visitors for some time. By combining the gar and eel into my design, I feel that this incorporates the feel and the history of the aquarium and region.”

“We were highly impressed with the creativity and historical significance of the entries for the weathervane design competition,” said Richard E. Rassel, Chairman, Butzel Long law firm and one of the design competition judges. “Bruce thoughtfully created a weathervane design that is an outstanding representation of the aquarium.”

The weathervane, visible from the aquarium’s parking lot, will be between 3.5 to 4 feet high in length, with the directionals at 2.5 to 3 feet in from east to west and then north to south. The Detroit-based Venus Bronze Works will construct the weathervane, which is expected to be completed and unveiled before the end of the year where it will sit atop of the Belle Isle Aquarium.

About the Belle Isle Conservancy
The Belle Isle Conservancy is a, nonprofit organization with a mission to restore, preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment, historic structures and unique character of Detroit’s scenic Belle Isle as a public park. Four long-time park advocacy agencies – Friends of Belle Isle; Belle Isle Botanical Society; Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium and the Belle Isle Women’s Committee – merged in 2011 to form the Conservancy. For more information, visit
About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in the United States. It was founded in 1854, making this year its 160th anniversary of providing trusted client service. Butzel’s full-service offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City and Monterrey. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting