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World's biggest ice carousel starts spinning

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

What do you do with ingenuity, free time and freezing temperatures? Well, in Madawaska, Maine, you build the world's largest ice carousel.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

The Northern Maine Ice Busters took on this chilling endeavor. They describe themselves on Facebook as just a bunch of northern Maine working-class citizens trying to beat cabin fever in the winter months. So on Saturday, they created a rotating disk of ice on the local frozen lake.

KELLY: A giant rotating disk. The hunk of ice came in at 1,776 feet in diameter. According to a video that the Ice Busters posted, it weighed quite a bit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: One hundred forty-eight thousand tons, or the equivalent of 40,197 F-150s.

KELLY: Turns out estimating the weight of an ice carousel is not an exact science. Other reports say it came in at 165,000 tons.

FLORIDO: To make the disk, the crew used drills and chainsaws to cut through 29 inches of ice. Roger Morneault is one of the masterminds behind the project. He told News Center Maine that breaking the ice was no easy task.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROGER MORNEAULT: The wind was just howling across. You couldn't see anything. So you'd cut a little bit of ice, and then you'd look back, and it was indistinguishable.

KELLY: To qualify for world record status, the disk had to spin at least one full revolution. The Ice Busters' first attempts involved an old potato harvester motor, and they only managed to turn the disk three feet.

FLORIDO: But they kept at it with the help of a pickup and an off-road vehicle called a fat truck. The disk finally began to turn, even if at glacial speeds.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: How fast do you think we're going?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Well, we timed it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: What? Do we have enough beer? That's the question. Do we have enough beer?

KELLY: The full record-breaking revolution ended up taking close to 2 1/2 hours.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Five, four, three, two, one.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: (Shouting) World record. World record.

KELLY: No word on whether that beer supply lasted the whole time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Matt Ozug
Jonaki Mehta
Jonaki Mehta is a producer for All Things Considered. Before ATC, she worked at Neon Hum Media where she produced a documentary series and talk show. Prior to that, Mehta was a producer at Member station KPCC and director/associate producer at Marketplace Morning Report, where she helped shape the morning's business news.