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Gamblers can still get in - Gazette - 03/24/2008


Gamblers can still get in on Goshen ice-out

Half of proceeds will go to lighting for veterans flag

Used by permission.  Copyright GazetteNET.com


GOSHEN - Daylight might linger a bit longer these days, but the snow is deep and the ice is still thick on Hammond Pond in Goshen.

Bob Labrie, pond superintendent and lead organizer of the fourth annual Goshen Meltdown contest, walked confidently out on the ice Friday to check a 69-pound concrete block that sits just offshore at the southernmost end of the pond. Contest participants buy tickets and try to guess the exact time the ice will melt.

Photo by Carol Lollis

Bob Labrie, the Hammond Pond superintendent, stands with a rescue boat near the concrete block used for the 2008 Meltdown

Labrie did have the Goshen Fire Department's new rapid deployment craft - an inflatable banana-shaped boat - with him. He also wore one of the department's new heavy-duty nylon cold-water rescue suits, just in case he needed to rescue the block.

He tested out the suit in the open water near the dam, swimming just yards away from the meltdown block. He was checking for potential leaks because after an ice rescue exercise last month one user reported feeling a bit damp around the knees. There were no leaks on Friday, said Labrie, as he floated near a tiny iceberg that headed under the bridge.

Photo by Carol Lollis

Bob Labrie, the Hammond Pond superintendent, tests a rescue suit for leaks at Hammond Pond Friday morning, while Charlotte Doulette, 5, watches.

The meltdown block sits on a wooden pallet; a red golf flag flaps above it in the strong wind. The cloth flag actually sheared off last week in a storm and Labrie reattached it with some plastic ties.

The block is connected by a rope to an electric clock that's plugged into an outlet in the gatehouse at the end of the dam. Once the block falls through the ice or moves away from the dam, the tension on the cord will pull the plug and stop the clock.

To win the meltdown, and half the proceeds from ticket sales, a ticket-holder has to come closest to guessing the exact time and day that the 69-pound concrete block will fall through the ice, without going beyond that moment.

This year, the other half of the proceeds will go to purchase lighting for the veterans flag in the center of town. Labrie hopes to install solar-powered lighting.

So far Labrie has charted all the guesses made to date and he sees the beginnings of a bell curve, with April 10 and 13 being the most popular days. The most popular time, he said, is 3:30 p.m.

Hammond Acres Association sponsors the annual event.  Hammond Acres cottages and recreation area date back to the 1950's when Hammond Pond was developed into a private lake resort.

Meltdown tickets must be purchased by April 1. So far, Labrie has sold almost 400 tickets at $1 apiece.  For more information, go to www.goshenmafire.com and click on Meltdown 2008.  Tickets can be printed from the Web site. Last year's block fell into the water at 12 noon (and 11 seconds) on Saturday, April 21.

(Monday, March 24, 2008)