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Goshen’s annual Meltdown to benefit Camp Howe

Robert Labrie, organizer of the annual Meltdown fundraiser, stands inside an ice sled on Hammond Pond in Goshen in 2008 next to the concrete block used for that year's event.

Robert Labrie, organizer of the annual Meltdown fundraiser, stands inside an ice sled on Hammond Pond in Goshen in 2008 next to the concrete block used for that year's event. FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

— It is time once again to place your bets on the day and time the 69-pound cement block now situated in the middle of Hammond Pond will fall through the ice.

Since its inception nine years ago, the so-called Meltdown has become a favorite tradition for people in town, throughout the Valley and beyond. Anyone can participate in the Meltdown; the individual who comes closest to picking the time the block breaks through the ice and falls into the water — without going over the time — wins half of the proceeds. The remaining cash is donated each year to a local person, group or organization in need of funds.

This year’s fundraiser will benefit Camp Howe, a 4-H summer camp that has been in Goshen since 1935.

“I knew that Camp Howe had recently built a very nice multi-purpose recreation building. These funds would be used to create and furnish a “cool-down room” in the building that campers could use to take some time out, decompress and relax,” Goshen Fire Capt. Robert Labrie, organizer of the annual Meltdown, said.

Labrie said that Camp Howe’s executive director, Terrie Campbell, and her staff counselors, many of whom hail from other countries, have always been big supporters of the Meltdown.

“Thanks to them I have gotten Meltdown submissions from all over the world,” he said.

“We are very happy that Bob chose us this year,” Campbell said. Originally from Australia, Campbell came to Camp Howe 11 years ago. She says her relatives back home look forward to the Meltdown every year.

“They talk about it every year at Christmas dinner,” she said.

Campbell said that the cool-down room will be particularly helpful for campers with special physical or emotional needs, but will also be available for all campers to wind down when they need to.

According to Labrie, Eric Fisher, a meteorologist from television’s “The Weather Channel,” is also a fan of the Meltdown and not only places bets every year, but also drums up support for the event among his friends and colleagues.

Sometime early in February each year, Labrie places the 69-pound block on a pallet on the ice at Hammond Pond. A rope connects the block to a clock in the gatehouse on the shoreline. When the block falls through the ice, the rope pulls the cord of the clock out of the electrical socket, thus marking the official time the block went under.

This year Labrie put the block out on the ice on Feb 2. He said that due to warmer weather conditions, he had his daughter stand on shore with a cell phone just in case he went through the ice.

“I didn’t want the headlines to read ‘Meltdown organizer goes down with the block!’” he said.

Last year the block broke through the ice on March 19 at 2:14 p.m.

“That was the first time that anyone actually guessed the exact time and day,” Labrie said. “The latest date it went down was April 21 in 2007.” Last year’s Meltdown winner was Lisa Johnson of Southington, Conn., who won $1,157.00. The other half of the winnings went to Chesterfield to help cover the cost of preparations for the town’s 250th anniversary celebrations last year in July.

The final day for Meltdown submissions is April 1. Tickets received after April 1 (unless they were postmarked on or before that date) will be returned.

People can purchase Meltdown tickets and view data on previous events at the Goshen Fire Department’s website, goshenmafire.com.

For information, email bslabrie@msn.com or call 268-7110.

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