Thursday, May 7, 2009

The People and How

Here's a quick look into some of the people and stories from the 22 year history of the Joe's Pond Ice Out.

The Day the Ice Went Out Over the Years


1988 – Edward Bird, West Danville VT 4/26/88 12:31 p.m. $433.00

1990 – John Reilly, Barre, VT 4/26/90 9:40 a.m. $500.00

1991 – Scott Lazare, Lido Beach NJ 4/22/91 4:16 a.m. $900.00

1992 – Charese McSheffrey, Barre VT 5/6/92 1:19 p.m. $1,100.00

1993 – Ray Strousos, Barre VT 4/29/93 1:38 p.m. $1,100.00

1994 – Jerome Bolkum, Barre VT 5/4/94 12:12 p.m. $1,080.00

1995 – Tom Buzzi, Kent OH 4/23/95 2:50 p.m. $1,369.00

1996 – Nancy Potter, Plainfield VT 5/1/96 11:29 p.m. $1,729.00

1997 – Ralph Bissell, Walden VT 5/1/97 7:43 a.m. $1,280.00

1998 – Andre Jenny, Montpelier VT 4/16/98 6:41 p.m. $1,784.00

1999 – Gilles Moreau, East Barre VT 4/26/99 2:37 a.m. $1,751.00

2000 – Tammy Hatch, West Danville VT 4/30/00 6:19 a.m. $2,000.00

2001 – Kay Scott, St. Johnsbury VT 5/4/01 1:44 a.m. $2,608.00

2002 – N. Mason, Jeff Temple, S. Bean, C. Zabek 4/18/02 4:18 p.m. $2,440.00

2003 – Brodie Frazier, East Montpelier, VT 4/28/03 9:45 a.m. $2,682.00

2004 – Janet Hazen, So. Hero, VT 4/21/04 3:25 p.m. $3,250.00

2005 – G. D. Lanois, Bonita Springs, FL 4/21/05 2:50 p.m. $3,330.00

2006 – Pam Desrochers, St. Johnsbury, VT 4/16/06 3:20 p.m. $3,606.00

Lucille Dente, Barre, VT. 4/16/06 3:20 p.m. See above

Frenchie Cutting, St. Albans, VT 4/16/06 3:20 p.m. See above

2007—Dr. Bob Marshall, Montpelier, VT 5/1/07 4:45 p.m. $4,216.00

2008 - Roxanne Gorham, Lyndonville, VT 4/25/08 5:25 p.m. $5,292.00

- Janet Egizi, St. Johnsbury, VT See above

- Joe Kelly, Barre, VT See above

- Don Rogers, Swartz Creek, MI. See above

2009- Ash Desmond, Richmond, VT 4/20/200 10:20 p.m. $4,965.00

Vermont – 25
Florida – 2
New Jersey – 1
Ohio – 1
Michigan - 1

Female – 12
Male – 18

April – 15 winning dates; April 16th earliest (1998, 2006)
May – 7 winning dates; May 6th latest (1992)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Let's Watch the Ice Melt

It was all started by a man named Jules Chatot back as early as the 1960's. Jules owned a summer camp on Joe's Pond and always made trips up during the winter to visit friends. While they talked about the harsh, long Northeast Kingdom winters, they would ponder the thought of when the ice would be non-existent on Joe's Pond. And that's how it all started. On a small notebook, Jules and his friends would take small bets on when they thought the thick winter ice would finally give way to open water when that last little bit of ice was finally melted by the warm spring rays of sun.

For some 20 years they would continue to do this, and with the interest of this hand full of men, it grew, as friends of friends would tell others and the list of people making bets grew larger each year. Finally in 1987, Jules decided to open it up to the public allowing people from all over Vermont to join in on "watching the ice melt" at Joe's Pond. It was then that they decided to charge a dollar per ticket or guess and for the past 22 years, it hasn't changed. However, after some time, they toyed with the idea of charging more per ticket, but decided it would be best to keep it at a measly dollar per guess.

In it's inaugural year, the ice officially went out at 12:31 PM on April 26, 1988. That years lucky winner was a man named Edward Bird of West Danville, Vermont. He received the distinct honor of taking home some $433 dollars for guessing the nearest time... and of course, bragging rights.

By 1993 the contest had grown by about three times with roughly 2900 tickets being sold and Ray Strousos of Barre, Vermont taking home the coveted first place prize of $1,100 dollars. By the year 2000 the top prize had grown by two times the amount of 1993, to $2,000 dollars. In 2004 the contest's first place prize broke the $3,000 dollar mark when Janet Hazen of South Hero, Vermont took home $3,250 dollars. Then just three years later in 2007, it broke the $4,000 dollar mark when Dr. Bob Marshall of Montpelier, Vermont pocketed a winnings of $4,216. As if the contest hadn't grown enough, that fallowing year in 2008, it grew even larger and four lucky winners split a $5,292 dollar pot when they all guessed April 25 around 5:25 PM.

This year, bad economy and all (however it is just a dollar per ticket after all) the contest remained popular and the all important cash prize of $4,965 was taken home by Ash Desmond of Richmond, Vermont. The ice went out at 10:21 PM on April 20th.

How Do You Know When the Ice Officially Goes Out?

While the competition has only been held for 22 years now, the device that has been keeping track of when the ice actually goes out is estimated to be over 40 years old. The device is simple. It's an old clock. However, how the clock knows when to stop is operated by what the Joe's Pond Association calls a "hi-tech, sophisticated control system." The electronically operated clock, is connected to a wire, that is connected to two pieces of looped 6 pound test fishing line, that is connected to a rope, which is connected to a pallet with a 60 pound cinder block and flag sitting atop, some 100 feet or so out on the ice. When the pallet and 60 pound cinder block finally falls through the ice, yanking the rope, it snaps the fishing line which then pulls the wire connection apart, stopping the clock at the very moment the "ice goes out." Now that the clock can record the exact time the ice goes out, there isn't any more "are you sure the ice is completely out?" Because when the pallet and cinder block go down, the ice is officially out and the clock does not lie or have any bias.

What's the Fun in Watching Ice Melt?

Well, many have said that it's just about the most boring thing to do, but yet, thousands of people from all over the world are doing it. It might be just about as exciting as "watching the grass grow" or "watching paint dry," but when you can buy one ticket for the price of a dollar and have the chance to take home thousands of dollars, it can be pretty exciting. According to Joe's Pond officials, the fun was started as a way to fight off cabin fever back in the days of Jules Chatot's visits to Joe's Pond during the long, hard winter months. Oh, and afterall, it costs just one dollar to buy one Joe's Pond Ice Out ticket. What is one dollar when you have the possbility to win thousands? And what's more fun than winning thousands of dollars?