The coronavirus pandemic put a crimp in the annual Nenana Tripod Days festivities this year, but even COVID-19 couldn’t stop all the events from happening.

The traditional Pop Scramble is an outdoor event that could be held safely with COVID protocols in place, and plenty of social distancing.

Here’s how it works: Terry Forness, Audrey Cox and Lexi Forness dumped individual cans from 40 cases of soda onto the main road in front of Coghill’s General Store. Divided into age groups, participants lined up and then, in a mass start, rushed to pick up as many cans of soda as they could fit into their bags.

Every age group had their own technique. The youngest scramblers were super focused, carefully targeting individual cans. Others lay on the ground and used their arms to sweep as many cans as possible close to their grasp. Older participants took off from the starting line, then dropped to their knees or rear ends to slide along the last bit of icy road to reach the cans.

Throughout, there was lots of laughter and lots of cheering from parents and friends on the sidelines.

The crowd was smaller than past years, but just as enthusiastic as ever. It was also just as diverse as usual. There were participants from Fairbanks, North Pole and even France. Attending Nenana Tripod Days is a tradition for many families in the Interior.

Usually, Tripod Days is a two-day celebration that includes sled dog races, and indoor contests like bubble-gum blowing, pickle and hot dog eating, limbo and Native dancing. The weekend culminates with the raising of the tripod on the Tanana River.

From now through April 5, anyone can guess the exact month, day, hour and minute that the ice will go out. Tickets cost $2.50 per guess. Look for distinctive red-colored cans distributed statewide to deposit guesses.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.