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Ice age endures - Gazette - 03/21/2007


Ice age endures: Spring arrives, but 'Meltdown' contest extended in Goshen

Robert Labrie, organizer of the Goshen Meltdown, checks on the ice block and contest apparatus at Hammond Pond Sunday.

Photo by Deborah Doulette

Used by permission.  Copyright GazetteNET.com


GOSHEN - Tickets for the third-annual Goshen Meltdown will be on sale through Sunday, one week later than planned, according to its organizer, because the ice is not melting any time soon.

"It also gives folks who perhaps made their guesses a bit too early another chance," said Robert Labrie.

The calendar may say spring arrived late Tuesday, but on Hammond Pond in Goshen, winter still has a grip.

More than a foot of snow fell last Friday, and the 69-pound Meltdown block and the pallet it sits on have disappeared for now under new snow.

People who want to guess when the ice will melt enough to sink the block, or cause it to float free, can go to www.goshenmafire.com and purchase tickets.

Tickets are also for sale at the transfer station, the Goshen General Store and the Dresser family's Route 9 gas station.

On Sunday morning, what Labrie calls "lake effect" snow was blowing hard across the dam at the southern end, but it didn't bother him or his 5-year-old daughter, Hannah. A modified red golf flag, attached to the pallet, snapped madly in the blizzard-like wind.

Labrie opened the gatehouse on the dam to plug in the old-fashioned alarm clock - not digital - that is connected by rope to the ice block. The rope swings out of the gatehouse and hovers above the snow, held up by driveway reflectors.

Labrie has learned some lessons: "One year the rope got stuck in the ice. This year, no chance."

When the block falls through the ice, or when the ice floe the block sits on moves away from the dam, the alarm clock will come unplugged.

Hammond Acres Association is sponsor of this year's event. "It's one of many things we do to stay involved with the town and to be part of the town," said Labrie, who lives a stone's throw from the water. Hammond Acres cottages and recreation area date back to the 1950s, when Hammond Pond was developed into a private lake resort.

So far, Labrie has sold well over 500 tickets at $1 apiece. Half of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Francis and Ruth Dresser EMS Training Fund, which helps pay the training costs for volunteer emergency medical technicians in the Hilltowns. The other half will go to the person who comes the closest to guessing the exact time the ice melts in the lake, without going over.

For the next few weeks, at least twice a day, Labrie will be out here, checking the rope, taking photographs for his Web page and counting down the days.

Last year, he went out to dinner April 1. When he returned, only the flag was sticking through the ice and the block was gone. Within minutes, the flag, too, was under water. The clock had stopped at 8:28 p.m.

(March 21st, 2007)