By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

Betting on a horse is not a complicated wager, but the quirks of long-standing residents in the Columbia Valley have put an interesting spin on gambling. Avid gamblers, environmental stewards and lake lovers have recently wrapped up an annual competition to guess when the ice on Lake Windermere would melt.

The lauded community wager has presented a unique opportunity for bets to be made and participants to compete for a purse of $200 each.

Weve been doing it for many years I dont even know how many, but its been a lot, said Harold Hazelaar, president of Lake Windermere District Lions Club. Annually, people can buy a ticket to guess a date and time when the ice is expected to be gone from where the Lakeside Pub used to be, just to the point, Fort Point. Thats the portion of ice that were dealing with.

Sue Crowley, Amanda Strebakowsi, Alex Prowse, Lisa Tristram and Janine Hazelaar have been crowned this years five new winners for the Ice Out wager.

Its a $1,000 prize for the person who is closest in their guess, but this year there were five people who all guessed to the clock, said Mr. Hazelaar. The five are splitting the $1,000.

Placing bets on the bitter end of the winter weather conditions dates back even further in time than Mr. Hazelaar can recall, but now the wager is a well-loved Columbia Valley tradition because the $2 buy-in goes to a good cause. After selling up to 3,000 tickets for the ice out wager annually, Mr. Hazelaar and his peers at the Lake Windermere District Lions Club help to ensure the proceeds from the bet go back into the community, including two $2,000 annual scholarships and a $500 Student Citizen of the Year Award in June.

Thats what we fund by holding this contest, said Mr. Hazelaar. We can make up to $6,000 in revenue from that amount of tickets.. it also pays for the printing of the tickets.

The money for the scholarships will be awarded this spring at the David Thompson Secondary School graduation.

We just want to thank everybody who participating by buying a ticket to help us fundraise for the scholarships, said Mr. Hazelaar.