NEWPORT — With ice as thick as 30 inches some winters, Vermonters never tire watching for any indicative sign of the changing season.
To celebrate this time-honored tradition, Newport Parks & Recreation runs the annual “ICE OUT” contest for residents and visitors on Lake Memphremagog.
Each year a weighted Ice Out “mascot” is placed in the bay at Gardner Memorial Park attached to a time clock.
The facade can be seen from the Causeway bridge and stands steadfast through snowstorms until the ice beneath finally gives way to the early warmth of spring.
When the mascot drops, the clock stops and records the official moment that the ice is out in Newport.
“People keep pretty close tabs on the facade as they pass the Causeway,” said Jessica Booth, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Newport.
Parks Foreman Mac McKenny comes up with a ‘theme’ for the contest each year.
This year it’s a math pun. A play on the phrase ‘ice cube,’ by showing an ice chest with an exponent of three, or ice CUBED.
Booth and McKenny say they’re always inundated with calls and emails as soon as the mascot goes under.
“Checking the clock throughout the day is part of the fun while we work around the park,” says McKenny who is in charge of making the official call for ice out time. “But if the ice goes out on the weekend or in the evening when we’re not around, there’s plenty of people ready to report in.”
When the ice finally does go out on Lake Memphremagog, the news is always welcome to one lucky contestant who entered the closest prediction in the annual contest.
The nearest prediction, without going past, to the actual date and time wins 50 percent of the contest pool.
Last year the winning amount was over $1,500.
The other half of Ice Out proceeds will benefit the Gardner Memorial Park Playground & Splashpad Project.
Memphremagog Ice Out tickets can be purchased at Azur’s Liquor Store, Hoagies Pizza & Pasta, Jimmy Kwik, Westside Market & Deli, The Pick & Shovel or at the Parks & Recreation office on Main Street.
Predictions can be submitted online too at NewportRecreation.org/ICEOUT.
The deadline to submit is Wednesday, April 1, 2020, or when the ice goes out, whichever comes first.
No tickets/guesses are accepted after the ice is out.
For more information, call Newport Parks & Recreation at 802-334-6345.