Eight winners in Nenana Ice Classic

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001

NENANA (AP) -- The ice went out on the Tanana River at exactly 1 p.m. Alaska Standard Time Tuesday, ending this year's Nenana Ice Classic.

Eight winners are splitting $308,000 in the annual contest, giving each $38,500. Three of the winners are ''pools'' with several members.

''God only knows'' where Clyde Monzingo is going to spend the $13,860 -- after taxes -- he won.

''I'll figure out something to use it for, though,'' said Monzingo, a 67-year-old retired pipefitter who shared one of the winning tickets with friend and fellow Fairbanksan Jerry Lajiness.

Lajiness, 58, didn't find out he and Monzingo had won until Monzingo called him about 5 p.m.

''I just walked in the door five or 10 minutes ago and found out,'' Lajiness told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

''It's pretty exciting. I've played it a lot but I've never won,'' said Lajiness, a retired plumber who has been in Fairbanks for more than 30 years. ''I've bought tickets all over Fairbanks for years and never won. I just lucked out.''

Lajiness and Monzingo have been pooling their guesses for the last five years. They buy 50 tickets a year, using the same dates and times. This year, their number came up.

A group at a Fairbanks eatery is splitting the prize from another winning ticket. Each member of the five-person pool from The Grille will receive $5,544 after taxes.

''Everybody pitched in $20 and I went down and bought 50 tickets,'' said Walter Correll, owner of The Grille. ''I brought them back and we each filled 10 of them out.''

Other members of the pool are Parkson Lau, Lisa Wruck, Vivian Powell and Rick Geiger. All but Geiger work at the restaurant. Correll isn't sure just who picked the winning time, but he plans to figure it out and cook up a nice dinner as a reward.

Another winning entry was a six-member pool from Ketchikan called the Madison Street Gang, according to ice classic manager Cherri Forness.

One winner, Garry Harder is from Wisconsin, Forness said.

She identified two individual winners in Alaska, Dan Kieffer of Anchorage and Johnny David of Fairbanks. She said she couldn't reach two other winners. The 1,450-page List of Guesses published by the ice classic lists them as Yoko Shima of Two Rivers and Ralph D. Walker of Anchorage. Their picks were among 289,000 guesses in the contest this year.

Contestants pay two dollars a ticket to guess the exact time the ice will go out on the Tanana River. The clock is triggered by the movement of a tripod set out on the ice in the winter.

That tripod tipped over early last week, and then it moved about 70 feet down the river Tuesday morning. But it has to move 100 feet to trigger the official clock, and that didn't happen until after noon.

In the 84-year history of the Ice Classic before this year, the ice has gone out May 8 or later 30 times. Seven of those breakups occurred on May 8. The ice has gone out five times each on May 11 and May 12.

Last year, there were 18 winning tickets when the ice went out at 10:47 a.m. on May 1 and each winning ticket received $18,611.

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