Ice Melt Barrel is on ice — with a twist

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Angler’s auger breaks the ice when chainsaw doesn’t cut it

By Stephanie DeCamp

An unusual twist complicated placement of the barrel for the eighth annual Evergreen Ice Melt Contest when a chainsaw wouldn’t start — but a local fisherman’s auger came to the rescue with a twist of its own.

The hero fisherman (who wished to remain anonymous) saved more than just the day. The person who accurately predicts the exact time the barrel will fall into Evergreen Lake come springtime stands to win $1,000. Second place gets $500, third place $250, and fourth place $125.

Mountain Foothills Rotary, which sponsors the contest, has something new to offer this year: a package deal, in which an envelope of tickets and a T-shirt can be purchased together, said Sharon Smith, executive director of Evergreen Christian Outreach, one of the contest’s three beneficiary organizations. The sum of $35 purchases a long-sleeved T-shirt and 16 tickets, and $25 gets a regular T-shirt and 13 tickets.

Separately, tickets can be purchased at the rate of one for $3, two for $5, five for $10, 11 for $20, and 100 for $67.

Tickets may be purchased from Rotary members, at the Buchanan and Wulf Rec Centers, from various volunteers and online, said Cindy Duffy, a Rotary member and co-chair of the event.

The contest is simple: The empty blue-and-yellow barrel is propped up on a wooden cradle that’s fitted into the ice (usually courtesy of a working chainsaw), and then the bottom of that cradle is frozen over with new ice. It ends up being stuck about 6 inches down, and falls through once the spring melt sets in. Until then, people all over the country buy tickets to try to guess the time — down to the second — that it will drop.

“Typically the barrel tends to fall in late March to early April, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.” said Jerry Lautiger, the other co-chair of the event and the owner of the now-defunct chainsaw.

Many people play the game like the lottery, Duffy said, and choose numbers with personal significance. Often they will also send tickets to friends and family in other states.

“We’ve had winners from all over,” she said. “Everywhere from the lucky ones in Evergreen to out-of-towners. Last year the winner was a youngster that had visited his grandparents here from Indiana.”

After the barrel falls, Duffy said, the winners are verified and announced to the public, and the benefiting charities are presented with checks. Each year, she said, the group has managed to raise more money for the organizations, with last year pulling in just over $15,000.

Proceeds from the contest go to the Evergreen Park and Recreation District’s Special Needs Program, EChO, and Crutches 4 Africa, an organization that supplies mobility equipment to impoverished countries on that continent.

It also goes to various charitable causes of the Mountain Foothills Rotary Foundation, Rotary president Rich Mancuso said, which often puts the cash on ice for special circumstances like last year’s flooding.

“It’s a significant fund-raiser for us,” Smith said. “You get a chance to win, but you also support some great causes. We really appreciate all the work the Rotary does for us.”


This year’s premium sponsors of the Ice Melt Contest are Willow Creek restaurant and Colorado Serenity. Sponsorships can be had for $1,000, $500, $250 and $125. Call 303-886-6463 to learn more about sponsorships.


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