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Wolf River dummies Pete and Joe break free

Ice-out ambassadors rescued by boater

By John Faucher

New London’s ice-out ambassadors, mannequins Pete and Joe, took a ride down the Wolf River after the ice thawed beneath their boat Thursday, March 21.

The ice gave out at 4:50 p.m. during the dummies’ annual late-winter campout near the Pearl Street bridge downtown.

The pair floated west and became stuck in a large ice jam just east of the Shawano Street bridge before nightfall.

Pete and Joe remained stranded until shortly after 1 p.m. Friday, March 22. A service crew from Hintzke Well Drilling crossed the bridge and spotted the duo drifting downriver.

At the same time, Paul Webb a retired Navy veteran who lives on North Water Street, saw the ice had shifted, so he headed for his boat.

It took Webb some swift maneuvering by boat, but he was able to secure a rope to Pete and Joe’s boat resting on top of a large iceberg.

With a little effort from his 25-horsepower motor, Webb safely pulled the boat off the sheet of ice and brought Pete and Joe ashore at Riverside Park by 1:40 p.m.

Paul Webb talks to onlookers at Riverside Park after he returned Pete and Joe to safety. The mannequins broke free from an ice dam near the Shawano Street bridge Friday afternoon, March 22, in New London.
John Faucher photo

The dummies are now safely tied up in the parking lot there, drawing the attention of passersby.

As Webb taxied Pete and Joe’s boat to the landing, he yelled: “I’m retired Navy. Leave no man behind, even if they are a couple of dummies.”

Tim Deshaney Sr. is president of the New London Fish and Game Club, the group that facilitates the annual ice-out tradition now in its 66th year. Deshaney invited Webb to lunch as a token of appreciation for retrieving the mannequins.

“Who knows what can happen if they get too far downriver,” Deshaney said.

Dangerous ice jams and flows are expected over the next several days.

The entire river is under emergency slow-no-wake rules due to minor flood stage water levels.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, the National Weather Service recorded the river at a height of 10.09 feet, slightly below the crest of Thursday’s season-high 10.17 feet.

The river is forecast to remain at 10.1 feet for the next five days.

Now with ice-out completed, Deshaney said the New London Fish and Game Club is preparing for Big Whopper Weekend, set for April 19-21 at Riverside Park.

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