Ready for spring?
Its official start on the calendar is just four days away but judging from all the high snowbanks, it will be awhile before it actually feels like spring.
There are, at least, signs of it in the air: boat shows, melting icicles, open patches of driveway, longer days and the Echo Press annual "Ice Out Contest."
When will the ice melt away on Lake L'Homme Dieu? Take a guess and you could win a $50 gift certificate from Pete's County Market in Alexandria.
This year's contest is free to enter. An entry form is printed on page A3 in today's issue and will also be available in this weekend's Lakeland Shopping Guide.
Only one entry per person is allowed.
All entries must be received at the newspaper office by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 1.
Official ice-spotters from the Echo Press will determine when the ice has left the lake. If two or more people guess the correct date, a drawing will be held to determine the winner.
The Echo Press has been keeping track of the ice-out times dating back to 1867. Lake Osakis was originally the official lake but the site was changed to Lake L'Homme Dieu in 1965.
The earliest ice-out happened in 2000, when the lake was clear of ice on March 25.
The ice's most stubborn year was 1878 when it finally retreated on May 15.
Last year's ice out was an early one, April 2. Two years ago, it took until April 21 for the ice to retreat.
In the 141 years the newspaper has recorded ice-outs, the ice has stayed on the lake later than May 2 only 13 times.
In last year's contest, 11 entrants nailed the exact date and a drawing gave the prize to Bob Stob of Alexandria.