Galena woman sleepless over winning Nenana Ice Classic

Posted: Thursday, May 09, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Mildred Stickman thought someone was playing a joke on her when her phone rang at 11:30 Tuesday night in Galena and a woman told her she was one of six winners in the Nenana Ice Classic.

Stickman, 68, spent a restless after she learned her share would be $50,666.67.

''I just couldn't believe it. I just kept getting up and getting up,'' she said.

Six winning tickets split a $304,000 jackpot in Alaska's richest guessing game, in which thousands of Alaskans pay $2 per guess to try and pick the time to the minute when a wooden tripod set up on the Tanana River ice will move.

The ice officially went out at 9:27 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Tuesday.

Stickman's 75-year-old husband, Ray, was one of 12 winners in the 1996 Ice Classic. He won $25,000.

Her husband was in Fairbanks shopping when Mildred tracked him down on Wednesday morning to deliver the good news over the phone.

''The first thing he told me was, 'Now you're probably going to divorce me,''' Mildred said with a laugh.

It was Ray who bought tickets for this year's Ice Classic.

''He just pushed some over to me and said 'Put your name on those. You might be lucky,''' Mildred said.

There was nothing special about the date May 7 or the time 9:27 p.m. ''I just put it down,'' she said. ''I was thinking it maybe was too late in the evening.''

It marked only the third time in the 86-year history of the Nenana Ice Classic that the ice has gone out between 9 and 10 p.m. It was also the third time the ice went out on May 7.

Checks will be mailed to the winners June 1, said ice classic director Cherrie Forness.

Money earned from ticket sales goes to civic organizations, scholarships and other worthwhile causes in the city after the jackpot and expenses are paid out. This year, the Ice Classic raised more than $40,000 in community funds.

While only two of the winning ticket holders -- Stickman and Jerry and Linda Sieracki of Anchorage -- agreed to have their names released to the media, the other four winners' names appeared in the official book of guesses distributed to ticket vendors.

The other winners were Leonard Jensen of Nenana, the first local winner in 10 years, and Milagros Rathbun, Billy C. Ray and Philippa Paige of Anchorage.

Nenana's Jensen didn't want his name released and could not be reached for comment by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, but it would be hard to keep a secret in the city of 400, Forness said.

''It's pretty well known around town already. You can probably call any one of the bars in town and they'll tell you.''

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