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Ice carousel fundraisers donate $7,785 to Meals on Wheels

MADAWASKA, Maine — Although northern Mainers can now claim bragging rights for creating the world’s biggest ice carousel, Aroostook County seniors who rely on the Meals on Wheels program benefited most from the endeavor.

An aerial photo shows a massive 427-foot diameter circle of ice cut out of frozen Long Lake in Sinclair on Saturday, April 7. Volunteers say it’s large enough to beat the previous record of a 400-foot ice carousel held by a town in Finland. (Paul Cyr Photography)

Organizers of the ice carousel effort, which hundreds of volunteers helped to construct this spring on Long Lake in Sinclair, presented a check for $7,785 to the Aroostook County Meals on Wheels program at the Madawaska Senior Center on Wednesday.

Snowmobile Northern Maine organized the ice carousel building project, which took place over several weekends in March and April, as a fundraiser to benefit Meals on Wheels.

In the end, volunteers from all over New England visited Sinclair and, using chainsaws, ice augers and shovels, carved out of frozen Long Lake a 427-foot circle of ice with a perimeter of 1,341 feet. The organizers then used outboard motors to make the 22 million pound chunk of ice spin on Saturday, April 7.

Until then, the town of Lohja, Finland, held the record for world’s biggest ice carousel.

Snowmobile Northern Maine solicited prizes from local businesses and through raffle ticket sales and donations raised the nearly $8,000 for Meals on Wheels, which provides meals and social support to seniors.

“I’m totally amazed, totally humbled and thankful that everyone came together like they did,” Mike Cyr of Snowmobile Northern Maine said on Wednesday. “That disc got a big push from the spirit of our senior citizens.”

According to Cyr, Janne Kapylheto, chairman of the World Ice Carousel Association based in Helsinki, told him that because the ice on Long Lake measured from 28-31 inches thick when volunteers cut into it, they had to work four times as hard to build the carousel as their Finnish counterparts.

Kapylheto praised the efforts of the northern Maine group in a YouTube video, Cyr said.

Aroostook County Meals on Wheels program director Dottie Sines, said the buzz surrounding the ice carousel brought much needed attention to the program.

“This is an incredible coup for us, not just because we have more money to purchase meals but it also raised awareness across Maine and throughout the country about just how important Meals on Wheels is,” she said.

While volunteers deliver meals to seniors in their homes, they also check in on the residents to ensure that they are safe, as many elderly people live alone.

According to Sines, a Meals on Wheels worker in Aroostook County recently visited the home of an older gentleman and discovered the man’s home was unheated. Meals on Wheels then helped to connect the man with fuel oil assistance.

“We serve the whole person,” Sines said of the program.

Cyr said the World Ice Carousel organization is going to send a plaque to northern Maine with the engraving, “Icebusters-Sinclair, Maine- USA.”

The plaque will rest in a display case at the Long Lake Sporting Club, along with an old ice auger that broke down and was left behind by an unknown volunteer. Cyr also would like to find an old chainsaw to sit inside the case as another piece of memorabilia from the ice carousel project.

The trophy will remain in Sinclair until another group of ice carousel enthusiasts breaks the world record set on Long Lake, he said.

The best reward though, according to Cyr and Sines, is the boost to the Meals on Wheels program.

“This has done us more good than I could ever say,” Sines said. “I’m extremely grateful  and so are the seniors.”

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