Friday, May 24, 2013
Tickets for Nenana Ice Classic on Sale
One of the early signs of spring in Alaska has sprouted.
FAIRBANKS - One of the early signs of spring in Alaska has sprouted.
The bright red ticket cans that signify the start of the annual Nenana Ice Classic were put out in their traditional spots in bars, convenience stores, grocery stores and gas stations around the state a week ago.
Tickets for Alaska's richest guessing game went on sale Feb. 1 and will be sold through April 5.
Now in its 95th year, the Ice Classic is one of Alaska's oldest springtime traditions. It was started in 1917 by engineers building the Alaska Railroad. The engineers had to halt work for the winter when they reached the frozen Tanana River. To combat boredom during the winter, the engineers wagered on when the river would break up so they could go back to work.
The event has grown into Alaska's version of the lottery. Thousands of people pay $2.50 per ticket to guess the exact time - to the minute - that a tripod set up on the Tanana River ice will move and stop a clock it is connected to on shore.
More than $10 million has been paid since the Ice Classic started.
Last year, more than 234,000 tickets were sold. Three winners who guessed the ice would go out at 9:06 a.m. Alaska Standard Time on April 29 split a jackpot of $279,030. Each winner received $93,010 before taxes.
Ice Classic officials have not taken the first ice measurement of the winter yet but expect to do so this week, event manager Cherrie Forness said.
Tickets are $2.50 each and are available at more than 170 vendors around the state. There are more than 50 ticket vendors in the Fairbanks and North Pole areas.
Forness would like to see at least a $300,000 jackpot this year.
"That's what we're hoping for," she said.
The last time the Ice Classic's jackpot hit that mark was in 2008, when it reached $303,000.
Though no ice measurements had been taken as of Monday, Forness suspects the ice is at least of average thickness because of a cold December and the lack of snow on top of the ice.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.