Used by permission. Copyright GazetteNET.com
BY SEAN REAGAN STAFF WRITER
GOSHEN - FOR a lot of people in Goshen, 2005 was the year they spent getting ready for 2006. That's when the town celebrates its 225th anniversary with what organizers hope will be a Hilltown party to remember.
The festivities are slated for the weekend of July 7. Over the course of the three-day weekend, there'll be a block dance, historical tours, arts and crafts, balloon rides, and a chicken barbecue.
On Sunday, former WHMP radio personality Joe Fennessey will host a 'then and now' parade - the same role that he played a quarter century earlier.
'In the past year, efforts have resurged,' said Anthony 'Tom' Thomas, who serves on the organizing committee.
Plans were in the works some three years ago, he said. But 2005 has seen the bulk of the coordination.
Thomas said the celebration is gathering momentum with people beginning to identify specific tasks and assume responsibilities.
'Every meeting we have, there's more and more energy coming out of it,' said Thomas. 'I feel very positive about it.'
In February, a Valentine's Day dance will raise money for the weekend. Other fund-raisers will follow. Volunteers are still coming out of the woodwork to lend their hands.
The slow start, said Thomas, isn't any concern. The town was pacing itself - and now it's getting up a good head of steam.
'I think it's going to be one of the better parties in the Hilltowns next year,' said Thomas. 'I don't see any skunks in the woodpile.'
Predicting when ice melts for a cause
Robert Labrie likes to watch the ice melt in his neck of the woods. This year, Labrie organized the Goshen Meltdown - a benefit raffle for the town's anniversary celebration that hinged on predicting the precise date and time the ice would melt on Hammond Pond.
He's all set to do it again this year.
For the first melt, Labrie placed a concrete block on a wooden pallet on the frozen pond. A rope connected the block to an electric clock in the dam gate house. As spring weather melted the ice, the block eventually disconnected the clock.
Almost 1,000 tickets were sold to people willing to lay odds they could guess when that was going to happen. Labrie sent them all regular updates via email with photographs of the snow-encrusted block.
'Fabulous is the word,' said Labrie when asked what he thought of the first meltdown. 'There's not a whole lot of things for people to do in the winter in the Hilltowns. If nothing else, it brought a smile to people's faces.'
The predictions ran the gamut from late March to early May. In the end, Sonny LaFond - a school bus driver from Huntington - snagged almost $400 in prize money. He predicted the ice would go at 4:30 on April 12 _shy by less than 20 minutes.
The balance of the proceeds went towards the town's 225th anniversary celebration.
Labrie has already been out on the lake this year. It's approximately 4 inches thick, he said.
Tickets for the 2006 meltdown are already being printed. Labrie said he thinks sales this year can top 2005.
As for the fun, he expects that to just keep on growing. It's a public service in the best sense of the word. He's raising money for a good cause, but he's also shedding a little light on the long, dark winters.
'I want to expose people to life in the Hilltowns and what we have here in our little community,' he said.