By Eileen Persike
It’s early March, and in the distance, off the shore of Squash Lake sits a large loon, looking quite out of place on the snow and ice. It’s no hoax, nor an early April Fool’s Day prank; Loonie is serving as the official record keeper for when the ice goes out on the lake.
It’s important to know the exact day, hour and minute because Loonie is part of an “Ice Out” contest. The idea came to Marj Mehring last year.
“I know how long winter gets,” Mehring said. “As a lake resident, we’re always watching- when’s it going to be spring, when are we going to get water. So I thought it would be fun to make it a contest and have people guess, and also raise money to combat Eurasian Water Milfoil.”
This is the second year of the contest. Tickets can be purchased, $3 per guess, or four guesses for $10, at local establishments or can be purchased online on the Squash Lake Association website. The person who correctly guesses when the ice goes out wins half the pot.
“We tried to figure out how to know exactly when the ice goes out, so we got a battery powered clock, tied a string around the battery which is tied to an anchor, to keep it in place,” Mehring explained. “Then we attached it to a heavy grate to pull it down. When the ice goes out it will pull the string down and the clock stops. That’s the official time the ice went out.”
Every year is different, Mehring said, and she has been records for some 20. In 2015, the loon was set free April 12. Visit squashlakeassociation.com for more information.