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2006 Meltdown Updates


2006 Meltdown Updates


Click on any of the links below for local newspaper coverage:


Goshen preps for anniversary year - January 5, 2006

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

Plop of concrete signals Spring on Goshen pond - April 15, 2006


04/04/2006 Final Update


The 2006 Meltdown has officially come to an end.




2006 Meltdown as of 04/02/2006 at Noon


The winner is Monica Neveu of Goshen.  Monica’s pick of 8:18PM on Saturday April 1st was 10 minutes away from the actual time the block went through the ice at 8:28PM.  She laughed when I asked her the significance of her pick.  Apparently, the numbers 8 and 18 have some significance with members of her extended family.  It seems that 8/18 was the date her partner’s 21-year-old daughter met her boyfriend of 5 years.  When it came time to fill out her 10 tickets, it seemed natural to have 8:18PM as one of her choices.


When asked what she would do with $415 of prize money, Monica explained that she would be using it to pay for gas bills.  Monica’s 11 month old son, Mason, underwent surgery in a Boston area hospital last Thursday so she’s been spending a lot of time driving between her home in Goshen and the hospital.


I should also mention that Monica is a member of the Goshen Fire Department and is currently the Treasurer of the 225th Committee.  After she shared the story about her son, I didn’t have the heart to ask her if she wanted to donate her winnings back to the 225th Committee.


As you can see from the graphs below, there were significant changes between the 2005 and 2006 version of the contest.  For one thing, notice how concentrated the times where in the 2006 scatter graph.  Players seemed to be consistently choosing mid to late afternoon times around April 1st.





As for the date chosen, the perfect bell curve was interrupted by the flood of April 1st (79) and April 2nd (70) picks that were submitted towards the end of the contest.  Global warming seems to have found it’s way to Goshen.  Also note that the curve shifted two weeks sooner.  That trend was evident early on.





With the addition of $115 in out of pocket donations, the 225th Committee will be receiving a check for $530 from the Hammond Acres Association – the ultimate sponsor of the event.  Over the 2-year period, the association has donated just under $1,000 to the group.


Here is a summary of this years contest:


  • 943 tickets were sold to 308 individuals and 2 dogs living in 16 states and 2 countries.
  • There were 477 men (50.7%), 465 women (49.3%) and 2 dogs who participated.
  • The most popular dates were April 1st (79), April 2nd (70) and April 3rd (55).
  • The most popular times were 2pm and 4pm (tied with 38) and 3pm (37).
  • 51.9% (489) of those who participated did so for the first time.  48.1% (454) were veterans.
  • It didn’t appear that my April Fool’s photo of the politicians fooled anyone – although it did seem to solicit a variety of responses.  My favorite came from Steve Mollison who told me he knew it was fake because none of the individuals pictured knew where the hell Goshen was.

I was asked recently where the proceeds of future Meltdown contests would go.  After mulling it over for a moment, I thought that Goshen’s 250th anniversary is just around the corner.  Why not start early?  Then I thought better of that idea.  I figured that if I brought it up now, someone would volunteer me to be the chairman.  I’ve got a few ideas for the beneficiary of next year’s contest so stay tuned.  As long as I continue to have fun running this event and can make people smile every now and then, the contest will go on.


Until next year, THINK SUMMER!


04/02/2006 Update


Under the cover of darkness with a brisk northerly breeze as its only witness, the symbol that has come to characterize the spirit of the hilltowns sank slowly to the murky bottom of Hammond Pond.  In laymen’s terms, the fat lady finished singing her last song at 8:28PM on Saturday, April 1st, 2006.


The announcement of a winner will have to be put off for a few days to give the mail a chance to find its way to my mailbox.  I received another 15 tickets with March 31st postmarks in yesterday’s mail.  What I can tell you is this, as of 4/3/06, 308 individuals (51% male, 49% female) and 2 dogs submitted 943 tickets.  A woman who lives in Goshen submitted the unofficial winning ticket several months ago.  Her pick of 8:18PM was a mere 10 minutes away from the actual sinking.


As of right now, the proceeds exceed $400.  A final accounting will be completed when the contest comes to a close.


I’ve included several pictures this week just to show you the before and after perspectives.  The first picture was taken around 11am on Saturday (notice how translucent the water was becoming).  The second picture (which was lit by the high beams on my car) was taken at 9PM Saturday night.  The third picture was snapped today around noon (notice the open water where the block used to be).



2006 Meltdown as of 04/01/2006 at 11AM



2006 Meltdown as of 04/01/2006 at 9PM


I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the many people who’ve helped make the 2006 Meltdown a success for the second year in a row.  To my website coordinators (Larry Miller – www.egoshen.com, Phil Hurzeler – www.hammondacres.org and RJ of www.hilltownsonline.com) who helped spread the word to people outside the reach of my e-mail distribution list I say thank you.  To all the people that went out of their way to sell tickets to friends and co-workers, or those of you who pitched in by folding letters or stuffing envelopes and the scores of you who participated just to help a good cause and had a little fun along the way, thank you.  Finally, a special thanks to the person who tries to keep me in line but also pitches in when I need it most, my wife Sue.  Trust me here; if it weren’t for her support and the occasional kick in the pants I get from her we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.  Sue, you’re the best.


I’ll be wrapping up 2006 Meltdown with a final e-mail which will include the announcement of the winner, a final accounting of the grand prize along with my usual graphs, charts and other interesting factoids associated with this years contest.  Look for it in your local e-mail inbasket by the end of the week.


Until next time, keep thinking SPRING!


04/01/2006 Update


We learned last year what sunny skies, warm temperatures and a gently breeze can do to our little contest.  That’s right.  They all come out of the woodwork.


When the popularity of the 2006 Meltdown started to spread outside the cozy confines of our hilltown community, not only did ticket sales rise but also politicians felt the need to become affiliated with our contest.  They could smell free publicity.


The attached picture, which was taken yesterday morning, shows some of our finest doing what they do best – standing on thin ice.



Now that ticket sales are final, I can tell you that today, April 1st, is the most popular date picked at 77.  Tomorrow is the 2nd most popular date with 68 picks.  Overnight showers have given way to mostly sunny skies with the threat of thunderstorms later this afternoon.  At 10AM, the temperature outside is a balmy 56 degrees.  There’s a very good chance the ice won’t be around for too much longer so I’ll be sending out frequent updates.


As I mentioned last week, ticket sales ended yesterday.  The only tickets I will accept at this point are those with a March 31st or earlier postmarks.  Even if the block goes through in the next few days, I may not be able to announce the winner until next weekend to allow for returns to make it to my mailbox.



2006 Meltdown as of 03/31/2006 


As of last night, I had received 928 tickets.  That’s slightly lower than last year’s tally of 952 but I sense that we will surpass that figure when the final tally is taken.


Spring is truly just around the corner.


03/26/2006 Update


A 69-pound concrete block tied to the wooden pallet it was delivered on - $2.50


100' of nylon rope tied to an electric clock - $4.47


A frozen 43 acre lake nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires that allows me to run a contest to support Goshen's 225th anniversary - PRICELESS.




As I drove through the hills of Western Mass on my way to a day of skiing today, I noticed that a good portion of the hilltowns were greeted with a light blanket of snow this morning.  Not surprisingly, the ice on the lake still goes from shore to shore as you can see in the attached picture.


Things should start to get a bit more interesting over the next few weeks.  Although the local television meteorologists are teasing us with forecasted temperatures in the 60's on Friday and Saturday, Goshen's temps will be in the lower 50's.  This is the first time since the start of this contest where the average low temperature over the next 10 days is expected to be above the freezing mark.  The average high temperature for the foreseeable future is 48 degrees Fahrenheit while the average low temperature if forecasted to be 33 degrees Fahrenheit.


Of the 674 tickets sold to date, 17% (114) have chosen times in the morning while the remaining 83% (560) have picked times that start after noon.  The ratio of male to female participants now stands at 51% to 49% respectively - a significant change from the last report.

With the end of ticket sales only 6 days away, there's still time for the 66 people whose dates have already passed to get back into the action.  Just to clarify, I will accept tickets after March 31st only if the envelope was postmarked before April 1st.


The electricity in the gatehouse on the dam has been turned on.  Over the next several days, the rope that's tied to the block on the ice will be attached to the extension cord of the electric clock and get plugged in.  As we get closer to the actual meltdown local block spotters who monitor the condition of the lake throughout the day will spring into action.  Stay tuned for more regular updates.


Time to make one final run down the mountain.  Spring conditions certainly exist on the slopes so it won't be long before we see it in Goshen.


Until then, THINK SPRING!


03/19/2006 Update


This sure was a strange week.


We started out on the balmy side of 50 degrees.  Then the winds came.  I like to think of them as Mother Nature's pruning shears.  With the winds came flurries and the occasional snow squall courtesy of the Great Lakes.  As I prepare this week’s update, the skies are clear, there are snow flurries flying about, it's breezy and it's in the teens.  The 10-day forecast calls for a slight warming trend - daytime temps around 38 degrees, nighttime temps in the upper twenties.  There's a chance of flurries in the middle part of the week with warmer temperatures brining showers towards the end of the week.


In case you've forgotten, spring officially arrives tomorrow, March 20th.  This means that we'll have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of twilight.  It also means the sun will have more of a chance to beat down on the ice currently covering Hammond Pond.


Speaking of the pond, as you can see from this week’s picture, I've found a new ice fishing technique.  Talk about a cooler, mine is approximately 43 acres in size and is covered in ice that's currently ranging from 12" to 15" inches thick.  When Paul Engel and a friend of his stopped at bait shop to pick up some shiners today, they were asked what they were going to do with them.  Paul told them where they were going ice fishing to which the proprietor responded, "Not around here, you aren't".  You see, most of the waterways around here have open water.  That includes the Oxbow in Northampton along with a host of lakes and ponds throughout Western Mass.  When Paul mentioned he was going to Goshen, the owner said, "Where the hell is Goshen?”  That's just the way we like people to think of us...




While the wi-fi connection on the laptop didn't quite meet my expectations, and I didn't really see much action in the fish department, I was able to try out my thermal socks which kept my toes nice and toasty warm.


There's been a surge on the ticket front.  As of today, the count is up to 552 which is made up of 138 picks from females (25%), 413 picks from males (75%) and 1 pick being shared by two dogs named Bud and Duke.


At total of 40 tickets (7.2%) out of the 552 submitted have already passed.  For those of you who picked early dates in the hopes of a late winter thaw, there's still 13 days for you to submit your second guesses.  Keep in mind that ticket returns will be accepted through Friday, March 31st.  The following weekend is when I'll tally up the returns and provide you with the stats on who picked what when.


If anyone needs additional tickets, you can either request them from me or find the ticket links at e-goshen.com or hammondacres.org.


Hope you enjoy the picture and, as always, THINK SPRING!


03/13/2006 Update


I'm as confused as the weather these days.



2006 Meltdown as of 03/13/2006 


I'm sitting here in my house on Monday night, March 13th while a thunderstorm accompanied with the usual lightning display, booming sound effects and downpours rages outside.


The temperatures since the last update have been above freezing in the daytime and below freezing in the evenings.  While some of you (especially my friends to the south of the Mason Dixon line) might not realize the importance of that sentence, those of us living up here in God's country know it can only mean one thing - the sap has started to run in the hilltowns.  The sugar shacks are boiling and the sweet smell of maple syrup is wafting through the air.


Ah, but there's always two sides to every story.  With temperatures approaching 60 degrees over the weekend, those of us living on the maple lined and stone walled dirt roads of New England know all too well what that means.  You guessed it, MUD SEASON.


While many of the folks living in the lower reaches of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts spent the weekend filling out brackets for the upcoming NCAA pool (UCONN all the way), Goshenites looked out their windows wondering when the snow in their back yards would melt.  Local EMS departments were kept busy at the Chesterfield Gorge Saturday night when a woman from Canada slipped on some ice and fell approximately 40 feet to the Westfield River below.  We're all hoping for a full and speedy recovery.


The 10-day forecast calls for snow showers on Friday with nighttime temperatures this weekend hovering in the teens.  The average high temperature over that period is forecasted to be 37 degrees Fahrenheit with average lows just barely above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now do you understand my confusion?


Tickets sales continue to rise.  Currently, 387 brave souls have taken the plunge and submitted their best guesses.  It's too bad that 17 of those best guesses have already gone by.  I have to admit that many of those early birds submitted tickets during January's thaw (remember that?) when we all thought spring was right around the corner.


Just over 50% of tickets sold to date come from people new to the Meltdown experience.  I'm a bit perplexed by the ratio of men to women submitting tickets.  It currently stands at 70% / 30% respectively.  Is this an indication that men really aren't the procrastinators we're portrayed to be in television and movies?  Could it be that we know how busy we'll be raking the lawns in the not-too-distant future?  I'm afraid to say much more.


Now that we're becoming more global, I think it's only fair that I reluctantly include the date and time of the first pitch for the Evil Empire - I mean the Yankees.  Recall that I told you the Red Sox were scheduled to throw out the opening pitch at 2:05PM on Tuesday April 11th.  Well, dare I say that this will be the only time this entire season the Yankees will be ahead of the Red Sox?  They're scheduled to throw out their first pitch at 1:05PM on the same day.  Let the games begin!


Attached is a picture taken this morning.  Notice that the ice on the lake continues to stretch from shore to shore.  The only thing missing is that 'lake effect' snow I mentioned last week.  For the most part, that snow has turned into ice.  Take a look at the thin layer of 'fog free' air just above the surface of the ice.  My brother thinks that this is a layer of warmer air because it's not allowing for any condensation.  I like to think of it as a layer of colder air that's keeping the ice from melting.  Care to share your thoughts?  I'll publish the results of our informal survey in next weeks update.


Well, the thunderstorm has since passed and it's time for me to call it a day.


Keep those returns coming in.  Here is a link to our Hammond Acres website for those of you looking to print tickets to send in (www.HammondAcres.org).  Keep in mind that I stop accepting tickets after March 31st just to be fair.


As always, THINK SPRING.


03/06/2006 Update


Here we are going into the second week of March with a warming trend on the horizon.


Is it me or is everyone talking about global warming?  From the relocation of the Iditarod racecourse in Alaska to the melting of the North and South poles, this topic seems to be the genesis for all of life's trials and tribulations.  Why is it then that the ice on Hammond Pond doesn’t seem to have gotten the message?  Could it be because Goshen only has dial up service over plain old telephone lines and that e-mail hasn't finished downloading yet?  Is it because run off of road salt from the newly reconstructed South Chesterfield Road no longer drains into the lake?  Regardless of the reason, this weeks picture (which was taken this morning) illustrates my point - the lake is frozen solid from shore to shore.




The block is placed on the southern end of the pond.  This is the area that typically receives what I like to refer to as "lake effect" snow.  You see, Hammond Pond is situated North to South.  The prevailing wind in the winter generally comes from the North.  The result is that Pug & Georgia McCarthy's house (which is situated just south of the lake) usually gets dumped on twice - once during the initial storm and once when the winds of the departing storm blows what's on the lake into their driveway and onto the roof of their house.  The snow you see in the picture didn't make it across the dam because the winds weren't strong enough to push it there.  Most of the lake is visible ice with a thin coating of snow around the area of the block.


The 10-day temperature forecast calls for average highs of 43 degrees Fahrenheit and average lows of 29 degrees Fahrenheit.  With these kinds of temperatures, the sap for maple sugaring is bound to start flowing.  Local weather forecasters are teasing us with "possible" temperatures in the 60's on Saturday.  Let me just remind you that the top 2 highest producing snow storms ever recorded in this region occurred in March.  I'm not convinced that this trend will continue in the second half of the month.


As I mentioned in last weeks update, I won't be providing you with the most popular dates and times until after ticket sales are final on March 31st.  Suffice it to say that tickets continue to come in and I am very appreciative of your generosity.


As always, THINK SPRING.


02/28/2006 Update


Welcome to the 2006 Meltdown.


As many of you know, the concept of putting a 69-pound block of concrete on the ice of Hammond Pond in Goshen MA started a few years ago after hearing a report on the radio.  The idea wasn’t new.  Folks up at Joe’s Pond in West Danville Vermont had been doing it for almost 20 years.  Don Walker, the person who had been running their event, was contacted to get advice on the right way to get an event like this off the ground.  The success of last year’s contest was proof that he steered us in the right direction.  There were 952 tickets purchased by people in 59 cities, 12 states and 2 countries.  In the end, $400 went to the winner (Sonny LaFond of Huntington, MA) and $400 plus additional donations went to Goshen’s 225th Anniversary Committee.


Goshen will be celebrating its 225th anniversary over the weekend of July 7-9, 2006.  As is stands right now, the weekend will kick off with a block dance on Friday, July 7th.  Saturday, July 8th will feature an arts & crafts show, historical tours, special exhibits, old engines, balloon rides, The Great Goshen Road Rally, a chicken barbecue, music by local bands, and fireworks.  Route 9 will be closed to all traffic on Sunday, July 9th to allow for the Grand Parade to pass through town. event.


How many of us remember January’s balmy weather?  How many of us used to think that spring was just around the corner?  Remember the old adage “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute”?  Well, February didn’t disappoint.  It’s been downright cold.


The block, pallet and flag were placed on the lake on Sunday, January 29th.  Just to be safe, I left my cell phone with my kids (who were safely planted on shore) as I ventured out onto the ice.  To refresh your memory, we were just getting over a 3 ½” rain event which melted much of the snowfall we had received less than a week earlier.  Much to my surprise, the ice was over 8” thick.  Since that time Goshen has been relatively shut out of any significant snowfall.  The snowstorm that broke records in Central Park and Hartford CT pounded out a meager 4” in the hilltowns.  Since then, most of that has been blown away.  As a result, the ice has been left exposed to the single digit temperatures we’ve been experiencing over the past several weeks.