Place your bets: When will Nenana’s ice go out?

Place your bets: When will Nenana’s ice go out?
March 23, 2015 Staff report

The ice supporting Alaska’s most famous marker, Nenana’s black & white Ice Classic Sweepstakes tripod, is about three inches thiner than it was this same week in March 2014.

Indeed this year’s stats document ice conditions ranking among the thinnest ever recorded in the near century-old sweepstakes. Note these periodic 2015 measurements from the Ice Classic website:

Feb 6 – 22 Inches

Feb 20 – 34 Inches

March 5 – 34.5 Inches

March 19 – 35 Inches

Now look how that stacks up with 2014’s river watch:

Spring 2014 Nenana ice thickness.

Spring 2014 Nenana ice thickness.m, signaling the river’s seasonal breakup.

 As most Interior residents know, watch the river ice in Nenana claims is more than a diversion. There’s a potential payoff, often ranging in the tens, even hundreds of $1000s, associated with  guessing minute the tripod resting out in the river shifts enough to pull the cable tripping an official alarm, signaling the river’s seasonal breakup.

As most Interior residents know, watching the snow-covered ice topping the Tanana River in Nenana is more than a diversion. There’s a potential payoff, often ranging up into the hundreds of $1000s associated with guessing the exact minute that ice carpet begins moving. For more than 70 years, Alaskans have placed bets on the instant Nenana’s famous tripod, located out in the river, shifts enough to pull a cable tripping the alarm making farsighted gamblers, sometimes dozens who polled their chances, rich!

Last year, some 17 individuals and a half dozen pools shared in an all-time record $363,627.00 payout.

In 2013, a year the ice this same week measured at 50 inches thick, sole winner Tommy Lee Waters, of Fairbanks, pocketed a cool $350,000 through his correct April 23rd bet.

Data-minded gamblers will find more than 20 years of thickness measurements posted on the Ice classic’s official site. Those who favor consulting calendars will find nearly a century of winning times listed on the $2.50 ticket submission forms.

Image of Ice Classic ticket can

Nenana Ice Classic trademark ticket can.

What are you waiting for? Tickets are available at nearly every convenience store in the Interior. Look for the big red can sporting a tripod logo.  Sales continue through April 5.


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