Betting on Thin Ice

Betting on thin ice
[B]y winter’s end (even in a weirdly warm year like this one), we Mainers have gotten pretty good at making our own fun. And what better way to entertain ourselves (and salute the spring) than with a friendly wager on when the ice will disappear on the nearest lake? In Wilton, you can make $100 predicting the first day a boat can get from the town launch to Wilson Lake’s main island without hitting ice. A similar pool for Camden’s Megunticook Lake might land you a gift certificate for outdoor gear and a year’s subscription to the local paper. In Jackman, the Cozy Cove Cabins usually offer half off a night’s stay to whoever calls Big Wood Lake’s ice out date.

Here (top), on Bridgton’s Moose Pond — with the ski runs of Shawnee Peak looming behind — the official mascot of ice out is a snowman named “IC,” whose ingenious designers mounted him on a flotation platform next to an attached weight. In years past, a cool $500 went to the wintry prophet who guessed the date when the weight would drop to the lake bottom, thereby yanking away a board to reveal the word “OUT” (ties were decided by a raffle). Sadly, the snowman went into hibernation this winter while the Bridgton Community Center retooled its contest. Here’s to seeing IC back on the ice next year!

See more North by East stories!

Get our latest stories plus online exclusives every week. Subscribe to the Down East Extra email.