Hancock

Eight-year-old wins Ice-Out

Riley Grisé will donate $800 winnings to church, animal rescue

HANCOCK — The ice went out on Norway Pond quickly last week, leaving a replica of the Hancock Meetinghouse drifting on open water, with a red banner flying from its steeple, and a white cinder block sitting at the bottom of the pond.

The banner went up at the exact moment when the cinder block broke through the melting ice, making a 8-year-old Connecticut girl who picked the closest time quite excited.

Riley Grisé, the granddaughter of Hancock residents Dick and Josie Warner, won the First Congregational Church’s second Ice-Out contest. On her winning ticket, Riley guessed that the block would break through on April 16 at 1:46 p.m. She was off by just eight minutes; the actual Ice-Out time, determined by the solar powered device that transmitted a signal to a computer on shore, was 1:54 p.m.

“Riley was thrilled when she learned she won,” said Dick Warner, who is one of the organizers of the contest. “She got all dressed up in her best dress and we got a photo of her holding a picture of the church on the pond that I took.”

Riley’s prize was $801.20, half the proceeds of ticket sales after expenses were deducted, said Jane Richards-Jones of Hancock, another organizer of the contest. This year, Richards-Jones said, church members sold 949 tickets, including quite a few sold online for the first time.

“It was quite a success,” Richards-Jones said. “We sold more tickets and made more money, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Last year’s contest pay-out was $706.23, Richards-Jones said.

The contest is one of the First Congregational Church’s fundraising efforts to support its annual budget. The congregation meets in the upstairs sanctuary of the Meetinghouse, which it owns jointly with the town, and also owns and maintains the Vestry building next door to the Meetinghouse, which is frequently used for both church and town activities.

Warner said Riley is planning to give away most of her winnings. She’s donating $700 back to the church and she plans to give most of the rest to an animal rescue league in Connecticut that she likes.

“We’ve heard that she may keep a little bit as a treat for herself,” Richards-Jones said.

As for the Meetinghouse replica, it’s still afloat.

Warner, who lives on the pond, said the anchor keeping it in place didn’t hold, but he got out his canoe and dragged it back to the center of the pond. He’s planning to ask the Fire Department to recover the heavy structure soon.

“It’s a great water rescue practice opportunity,” he said.

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