Updated 1:09 P.m. 4/29/10
FAIRBANKS - The Tanana River ice at Nenana officially went out at 9:06 a.m. Alaska Standard Time on Thursday, but it’s still unknown how many winners will split the $279,030 Nenana Ice Classic jackpot.
“It’s going to be a couple days; we’re still entering tickets,” Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness said Thursday morning, shortly after the siren sounded in the small town 55 miles south of Fairbanks to signal that the ice went out.
“We don’t know until we get everything done,” she said. “We’ve got to compare them and make sure everything’s right.”
More than 234,000 guesses were entered in this year’s Ice Classic, a 94-year-old tradition in which people pay $2.50 a ticket to guess the exact time a wooden tripod set up on the ice will move. The tripod is connected by a cable to a clock on shore. When the cable tightens, the clock stops.
The tripod moved on Wednesday but not enough to tighten the cable and stop the clock before the ice jammed and stopped moving.
On Thursday morning, the ice started moving again. The tripod didn’t have far to go before the cable tightened, the clock stopped and the siren sounded , Forness said.
“The whole river pretty much started moving,” she sad. “The ice started moving and the siren sounded.”
The tripod tipped over shortly after the siren sounded, she said.
It marked the ninth time in the 94-year-old history of the Ice Classic that the ice went out on April 29, tying April 30 for the date with the most winning breakup times, according to Ice Classic statistics. It was the seventh time the ice has gone out between 9 and 9:59 a.m.
The actual time the ice went out was 10:06 a.m. but guesses are based on Alaska Standard Time, not Alaska Daylight Time.
There weren’t many spectators on hand to witness the official breakup, Forness said.
“Nobody thought it would go out this early in the day,” she said.
Last year, the ice went out on May 1 at 8:41 p.m. and two winners split a $283,723 jackpot.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.