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People wagering for when pond to melt - March 4. 2006


People wagering when pond to melt

Used by permission.  Copyright GazetteNET.com


[ Originally published on: Saturday, March 04, 2006 ]

ALL eyes are on the sheet of ice that covers Hammond Pond in Goshen. It's been a mild winter, but so far the frozen cover is holding fast.

The second annual meltdown - a lighthearted wager on when the ice will melt - is under way.

The meltdown is the brainchild of resident Bob Labrie, who was looking for a way to raise funds to benefit Goshen's 225th anniversary. For a buck a ticket, anyone can predict the precise date and time that the ice will give way.

Labrie sets a concrete block on a wooden pallet on the pond. A rope connects the block to an electric clock in the dam gatehouse adjoining the water. Then, as days lengthen and the sunlight grows warmer, the ice melts, and the block either sinks or drifts away.

Half of the proceeds go to the 225 anniversary committee. The other half goes into the winner's pocket.

Goshen plans to celebrate its 225th anniversary over the weekend of July 7.

Labrie put the block down on Jan. 29. At that time, he said, he measured 8 inches of ice. Since then, Mother Nature has ''shown her true colors'' and winter has ''come on with a vengeance.''

To date, Labrie said that he has sold close to 250 tickets. Last year, he sold 952 tickets to people in 59 cities, 12 states and two countries.

Early indications are that people foresee an earlier end to the ice this year. Last year, it went on April 12 at 4:47 p.m. The winner, Sonny LaFond of Huntington, had predicted 4:30 p.m. that day.

Tickets are on sale through March 31 at the Goshen fire house and general store. They can also be purchased through the Web sites: egoshen.com, hilltownsonline.com and hammondacres.org.

As was the case last year, Labrie, an inveterate ice-watcher, declines to say when he thinks the ice will finally melt. ''Let's just say that things are starting to heat up,'' he said.