Ice Pick Betting Ends Sunday

BEMUS POINT – There is no bugler sounding a call to the post, but the last day to bet on the Chautauqua Lake Ice Pick contest is Sunday.

Peter Sullivan, event organizer, said those wanting to place last-minute bets will have until midnight Monday morning on the contest’s website at For those sending in checks, bets will have to have a postmark of no later than Sunday. Each guess costs $5.

”We’ve raised over $11,000 now. So we are looking at the one who gets the closest getting around $2,750, and the next five closest getting around $550,” he said.

For the contest, 50 percent of the money raised will be given to the Chautauqua Lake Association. The other 50 percent will be given to those who most accurately predict when the ice breaks, which will cause the pick to fall into the lake. The winner of the contest will receive 25 percent of the money raised. The next five closest guesses will split the remaining 25 percent.

Based on a successful Alaskan tradition, the Chautauqua Lake Ice Pick contest is a fundraiser where people predict exactly what time and date the ice will break and the tripod placed on the ice will fall into the lake.

The contest’s inaugural year was 2011, when $8,000 was raised to benefit the Chautauqua Lake Association. However, in 2012, due to unseasonably warmer temperatures, the contest was canceled.

Sullivan said even though 50-degree temperatures are being predicted for Sunday, he thinks it will still be awhile until the contest is over.

”I think it will take a lot of warmer days of temperatures that high (50 degrees) to melt the ice,” he said. ”It is pretty solid out there. It will take a number of warm days to melt the ice at this point.”

Sullivan said the original goal for the contest was to reach $10,000. He said he is happy the goal has been exceeded.

”It is hard to start something new. My hope is years ahead of us in January and February this comes to be something people automatically want to do and participate in,” he said. ”I feel good about what we have done, and we want to keep the momentum going. The weather certainly has helped.”

The idea for the event was brought back by Sullivan, who traveled to Nenana, Alaska, and witnessed an event held annually to predict when the ice breaks. The Alaskan tradition started as people awaited for the ice to break on the Tanana River, which would mean the start of supplies coming their way. Although Alaskans may not be as dependent upon the ice breaking to get supplies now, the guessing is still done.

Sullivan transformed the idea into a local fundraiser, with BOCES classes constructing the tripod that is connected to a clock to mark the exact time the ice cracks on Chautauqua Lake. In 2011, Greg Peterson won by correctly guessing 9:37 a.m. on March 18.