Take me to the river, drop me in the water

Take me to the river, drop me in the water
April 17, 2013 Logan Stolpe

The 2013 Nenana Ice Classic tripod. Every year the tripod is build, and once again, lost to the Tanana River.

By Logan Stolpe, Extreme Alaska

It’s older than the Iditarod.

This Alaskan tradition has been around since 1917 and Nenana residents are organizing guesses in anticipation for the ice to start moving.

The goal is to guess what time the melting of the Tanana river will move the 26-foot black and white tripod down river 100 feet to trip the timer and set the siren screaming. “It’s like a nuclear alarm, it’ll wake you up,” said Leon McElroy, who was sorting tickets at the Nenana Ice Classic headquarters.

Around 60 people are working at the headquarters this year, sorting tickets by locations sold and times, and eventually entering them into a database.  The job goes 8 hours-a-day-7-days-a-week, until all the tickets are entered.  If the number of tickets sold this year is anything like the roughly 280,000 sold last year, it could keep people busy for about 3 weeks.
At $2.50 a ticket, the 50 percent of the pot that went to the winner was a whopping $350,000.  The other half of the money stays with the Nenana Ice Classic organization, and pays for the ticket counters  and scholarships and charities in Nenana.
This is an interview with veterans of the organization.  Cherrie Forness, the manager, has spent 17 years with the ice classic.  Denis Argall the president of the ice classic has been involved off and on since 1963.  Susan Synder has done work with the ice classic since she was a kid.

 

The last ice thickness check at the tripod was April 15 with 50.3 inches still covering the river.  Check out ice thickness updates and the tripod web cam on the Nenana Ice Classic website.

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