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Hancock

A meeting house on ice

Annual fundraiser gets underway on Norway Pond

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

    A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

    A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

    A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

    A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

    A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.
  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.
  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.
  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.
  • A replica of the Hancock Congregational Church went out on Norway Pond Saturday. The church is having an "Ice Out" fundraiser where people can guess the time when a cinder block beneath the structure falls through the melting ice.

HANCOCK — Once again, a wooden replica of the town’s Meeting House, complete with steeple, can be seen on the ice of Norway Pond. This year, the cinder block inside the structure is painted white, a refinement to ensure it doesn’t absorb too much heat from the sun.

“That way it won’t fall through too early,” says Dick Warner of Hancock, one of the engineers behind the First Congregational Church’s second annual Ice-Out contest. He’s trying to eliminate all the variables so that ticket buyers with a scientific bent can predict the day, hour and minute when the block breaks through the melting ice and sinks to the bottom of the pond. The person who comes closest will win half the ticket proceeds, which last year came to $743.

“This year, we’re hoping to pay out even more,” says Jane Richards-Jones of Hancock, who’s helping organize the event. “Last year we paid for computer technology, which we’re able to reuse.”

When the block falls through, it will trigger a solar powered device that will transmit the time of the ice-out to a computer on Warner’s property along the shore of the pond. It will also link the information to a website, iceout.gbgone.com, set up by Marc Spinale of Hancock, who designed the contest’s electronics. And a red banner, similar to an ice fisherman’s tip-up, will pop into view on the steeple, alerting anyone keeping tabs on the structure from shore.

Richards-Jones says the contest drew a lot of attention last year, with residents selling tickets to friends and family around the country. There may be similar contests going on this winter, she says.

“We had a lot of people asking about it. A group in Harrisville even asked our permission to run their own contest. We told them we don’t own the idea. We stole it from folks in Vermont.”

The prize will go to the ticket buyer who submits the closest guess on either side of the time when the block falls through. Last year, ice out occurred on April 10 at 10:18:51 a.m. (Contest entrants do not have to narrow their choice down to the second.)

Tickets are $2 each or three for $5 and can be purchased from church members or at Fiddlehead’s, the Hancock Market and the Hancock Inn. Sales will run through March 15, when the box containing tickets will be locked for safekeeping in the office of the church’s minister, Judy Copeland.

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