Need a Face Mask? Saving Lives is Rocky’s Mission

  • Visit North Central

20190223_110955Perched high on his lifeguard chair near his favorite pond, “Rocky” is always ready to step up and save lives.

It certainly isn’t swimwear season, and it hasn’t been cold enough yet for the stalwart lifeguard to move into his winter role as a popular fund-raiser for veterans’ programs.  But while he waits for his next assignment, Rocky is busily saving lives another way: by handing out face masks to protect visitors from the Covid-19 virus. After all, in today’s world, there are many ways to save a life, and Rocky—appropriately dressed in a Grinch costume for this Covid-dominated holiday season— is determined to do his part.

Rocky — in reality, a retail store mannequin — has been a popular figure at Rockwell Pond for several years. When temperatures fall enough to create a thick layer of ice on the West Street pond, Rocky and his lifeguard stand are rolled out onto the frozen surface for the Veterans Center’s “Ice Out” Contest.

There he sits … and sits … and sits … waiting for a hint of spring, and the melting of the thick ice. Through sunny days, blizzards and ice storms, Rocky maintains his composure as the clock beneath him ticks away the hours and minutes.

But he’s not alone. Local residents keep a frequent eye on the lonely lifeguard — because the lucky person who guesses the exact time that Rocky will take the plunge into the still-frigid water (or, at least comes closest to the exact time) will take home a cash prize of $500 or more.  In in the past decade, the breakthrough has happened between February 22 and April 7, so the choices for picking the right time seem nearly endless!

The Ice-Out Contest supports a variety of programs of American Legion Post 151, Amvets Post 28, VFW Post 1807, DAV Chapter resized_20201214_15020424, VVA Chapter 116 and the Leominster Veterans Center — efforts including the Homeless Veterans, Service Dogs and VA Hospital programs — so the anticipation and fun are all for a good cause.

Tickets for the contest are available from the Leominster Veterans Center at 100 West Street, Leominster; the cost is $5 for two time picks, or $10 for five picks. When there’s nothing else to do on a long, cold winter day, you can always tune into the center’s webcam to see how Rocky and his lofty perch are doing — and keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, if you happen to need a face mask (or know someone who does), Rocky will be happy to lend a hand. Just stop by the porch at the Veterans Center for a visit, take a mask, and wish him luck for his lonely winter vigil.