A volunteer works with an auger to cut into the ice on Long Lake on Sunday in an attempt to create a world record sized ice carousel. Credit: Jessica Potila | SJVT

SINCLAIR, Maine — Perhaps only Mother Nature could have come between a group of determined northern Mainers and their goal to create a world record sized ice carousel on Long Lake over the weekend.

More than 100 volunteers helped work on the project, which is a fundraiser for the Aroostook County Meals on Wheels program. Most of the volunteers spent time out on the lake being whipped by sub-zero winds while wielding chainsaws, augers and shovels as they attempted to cut through nearly three feet of ice. Some volunteers bent the metal blades on their ice augers drilling multiple times through the hard ice.

But working throughout the weekend, the volunteers eventually were able to cut a 10,000-pound circular block 130 meters, or 426.5 feet, in diameter from the ice. Unfortunately, they were unable to make the free floating ice chunk spin more than six inches.

The volunteers had to postpone their efforts to complete the project due to the extreme cold which had them spinning their wheels, if not the carousel.

“We are not gonna declare defeat,” said Mike Cyr of Snowmobile Northern Maine, which organized the event. “We have almost another full month of winter left and we’re hoping Mother Nature will in turn cooperate and let us complete our mission.”

The thickness of the ice — 31 inches or more in some spots — prevented outboard motors from getting deep enough into the water to gain enough thrust to propel the giant carousel, Cyr said, so the volunteers will monitor the site for the next two to four weeks to determine when they can go back out and try to complete the project.

Cyr does see a positive in the delay.

“This blow to our plan gave us an ability to raise more money for our senior citizens for the next few weeks,” he said.

So far, the volunteers have raised $1,240 in raffle ticket sales and $200 in donations for the local Meals on Wheels program, which provides elderly Aroostook County residents with meals which are delivered directly to their homes.

Cyr will continue to sell raffle tickets, which are $5 each, until the ice carousel project comes to an end. Local businesses have donated 35 prizes so far, ranging in value from $20 to $150. Cyr said he would welcome more prizes if businesses are willing to donate them, since the fundraiser has been extended.

He also recognized three Valley businesses that provided the many volunteers with sustenance while they worked on the project this past weekend.

“We had hot dogs donated by three places that fed the boys and kept us going because we needed some calories to get going out there,” he said, thanking Saucier’s IGA in Van Buren, Paradis Shop ‘n Save, and John’s Shurfine in Fort Kent.

Cyr said even if the ice carousel never spins beyond that first six inches, there will be no shame in having tried, because people will have bonded while supporting a worthy cause.

“People around here, we just like to be together and do things and create something from nothing — that’s our enjoyment,” he said. “We all have full time jobs and are busy in our lives and have other things we can be doing, but there’s a satisfaction you get from doing a group effort like this.”

Even if the volunteers are still unable to make the carousel spin later, they are planning to celebrate their efforts with a hot dog roast on the carousel sometime in April. The hot dog roast is open to all members of the public.

All donations and money from ticket sales will be placed in an account which the Madawaska Snowmobile Club will manage until the project comes to an end, at which point a check will be made out to Aroostook County Meals on Wheels.

For more information, to purchase raffle tickets, or to donate to Meals on Wheels on behalf of the ice carousel volunteers, call Mike Cyr at (207) 446-3841 or (207) 728- 6028. Checks for raffle tickets also may be mailed to the Madawaska Snowmobile Club, 2018 World Record Ice Carousel, PO Box 755, Madawaska, ME 04756. Please be sure to include a name and phone number.

More information about the ice carousel efforts also is available at the Snowmobile Northern Maine Facebook page.

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