Nenana Ice Classic


Between Fairbanks and Denali, there is a small town called Nenana.  The town does not get much attention most of the year.  But every spring for the past 91 years, folks have paid attention to what is going on in Nenana.  The Ice Classic is a spring tradition for many Alaskans. Thousands pay $2.50 a ticket each year to guess exactly what time — down to the minute — the ice on the Tanana River at Nenana will go out.  So, how do people decide exactly when the ice goes out?


Sometime in early March, the townspeople build a “tripod” and set it out in the middle of the ice on the river.  When the ice breaks up and moves the “tripod” down the river, the contest is over.  The “tripod” is attached by a cable to a clock so that the clock stops when the “tripod” moves down the river.


Why does he keep putting “tripod” in quotes, you might ask.  Well, here’s a photo that we took of it a on our way back from Denali last week.


Nenana Ice Classic “Tripod” on the Tanana River




As you can see, there is a central pole with two rows of four supporting legs.  But, hey, if they want to call it a “tripod”, I can call it a “tripod.”


The following photo shows the cable leading back to the clock where the winning time is recorded.  Just this past Friday, April 27, the “tripod” moved far enough to stop the clock at exactly 4:47 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time.



Eight winning tickets shared a $270,500 jackpot last year when the ice went out at 6:29 p.m. Alaska Daylight Time on May 2, 2006.  This year’s winner, or winners as is usually the case, will share a $303,272 jackpot, the biggest payout in the past five years of the annual guessing game.  This year’s payout represents 50 percent of total ticket sales. The other half is used to pay expenses associated with running the Ice Classic, such as advertising, printing, collating tickets, typing in guesses, measuring ice and watching the “tripod.”


We’re both “working” this week. Paula is helping with the RV Rental business run in conjunction with the park, and Paul is working in the RV Park office.  Chena has the same computer system that Paula learned last year at Meadowbrook, Campground Manager, so she has been a big help in getting Paul familiar with the system.  More about all this some other time.


Hope all is well with all our friends on the receiving end of these messages!






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