ST. AGATHA, Maine — Harsh weather nearly ruined it, but determination and ingenuity won out late Saturday evening when a group of northern Mainers reclaimed the ice carousel world record.
Northern Maine Ice Busters volunteers carved through about 29 inches of Long Lake ice to create a gigantic ice disc that weighs more than 165,000 tons and measures 1,776 feet in diameter.
Icy winter weather initially foiled efforts to get the disc to spin an entire revolution, which is required for it to qualify for world record status, according to the World Ice Carousel Association.
A Thursday snowstorm forced the volunteers to whip out their chainsaws to cut anew on a sunny Friday.
“It was brutal,” the group’s media liaison, John Mazo, said.
Things were looking good Saturday morning when the disc began spinning under the power of eight outboard motors and a harvester motor, but came to a halt after rotating just three feet. The ice carousel measures 5,579 feet in circumference.
A belligerent chunk of ice cut by the Busters floated back up from under the carousel and blocked its rotation.
Citing yet more heavy snowfall organizers initially announced that efforts to make the disc spin would be postponed until Sunday.
After a short lunch break, however, Ice Busters leader Roger Morneault returned with new resolve and an inventive idea to use his own pickup truck to pull the massive carousel.
Morneault anchored his Ford Raptor and a Fat Truck to the main part of the Long Lake ice and hooked it to the carousel.
“They got that thing turning,” Mazo said.
The effort returned the internationally traveling trophy to Maine that has bounced between the Ice Busters and groups in Minnesota and Finland.
The World Ice Carousel Association, a loose-knit group of enthusiasts from around the world, monitors ice carousel building events and declares new records. The northern Maine group’s latest victory was in April 2021 when volunteers spun a 27-acre circular chunk of Long Lake ice measuring 1,234 feet in diameter.
Finland took the most recent record in February with a disc measuring 1,692 feet in diameter. Janne Kapylehto carved the new record-setting disc on a remote lake in Lappajarvi, about a five-hour drive from Helsinki.
Ice Busters first entered the running in 2018 when they beat a much smaller record of 400 feet in diameter. This weekend marks the third time Maine has held the trophy.
Former record holder Chuck Zwilling from Minnesota and members of his crew traveled to Maine to deliver the trophy. Zwilling even contributed to the Ice Busters’ world record effort by cutting the newest disc for about three hours with a freehand chainsaw.
“I was glad I could be a part of it and glad to see it spin,” Zwilling said.
The latest world record ice carousel endeavor has drawn attention from people all over the world, and most especially from former St. John Valley residents who live away.
New Hampshire resident Ken Dechaine grew up in Madawaska but left in the 1980s to pursue job opportunities. He has been following the Ice Busters world record ice carousel endeavors online since they began in 2018.
Dechaine said he feels a kinship with them.
“The energy, never say die, we can do this, the spirit of community coming together — it’s part of the Acadian pride,” Dechaine said. “Hard work was instilled in us from the time we could walk.”