Arctica Ice

Key Successes:

  • Pre-event sales
  • Traffic/parking issues
  • New pre-event sales hours for 2012
  • Additional crew
  • Shout out for Crystal Ice
  • New structures
  • Tip donations

What a year for Arctica!  2011 was our second year to be open pre-event and it looks like the word got out that people didn’t have to drive back to Gerlach for ice.  The number of Burners we served this year, prior to the event opening, was phenomenal.  Taking a cue from 2010, (with very little pre-event ice sold), we only had a skeleton crew running ice sales, while others were helping DPW paint the structures.  We quickly realized we needed to be fully-staffed.  With our structure not even finished and DPW working around us, we gathered up as many volunteers as possible and served so much ice that we quickly emptied our first truck.

As we were operating prior to event opening, many participants drove personal vehicles to get ice.  This caused a lot of traffic and parking issues.  We will add volunteer positions for pre-event parking monitors for 2012, and possibly block off parking areas, so as to leave the fire lane open and space for event staff to move through more easily.  We also plan to be fully staffed and extend our hours so that we are serving up the frosty cubes from 9am – 3pm.

Selling out our first ice truck so early should have been a clue of what was in store for us during the event.  The demand for ice was so much greater than we have ever seen at any event.  2010 had been our biggest year to date, emptying 32 trucks of ice.  2011 saw such a huge increase that we sold out of 43 trucks of ice!

Our vendor, Crystal Ice, was doing everything they could to keep up with the increased demand.  They were turning trucks around as soon as we could get them emptied and back to Reno.  Despite their tremendous efforts, and due to road closures on I-80, two of our igloos had to postpone sales for over an hour until we could get more ice delivered.   Once the ice was onsite, our crews went into overdrive to get it out to participants as quickly as possible.  Everyone stepped up and even those not on shift came back in to help out where needed.

Our igloos got a new look this year.  The new design included a 2/3 dome in front and a larger, pole-free structure to shade our ice trucks. Using long trusses for the roof, they were able to eliminate the support poles we’ve had in the past.  This was a great relief to our truck drivers and it also allowed us to move between the trucks more easily during shifts.  That helped us move the larger orders from theme camps and staff out the back while maintaining the fast service to everyone else up front.While we were excited to serve so many participants, the downside to being so busy is that much of our crew and operations personnel were so overworked and exhausted they didn’t have the energy to play.  It was a common sight to see those not working catching naps under our DPW-built shade.  Our truck drivers and truck escorts were hit the hardest.  It takes 45 minutes to bring a truck in from the staging area near the Greeter’s station.  Slow speeds, roads blocked by vehicles or spontaneous gatherings in the streets and keeping participants aware and out of the way of the trucks takes a toll on them.  We will be beefing up our crew for 2012, adding a new driver and four additional escorts that will take some of the load off and allow everyone the chance for some R&R.  We are also working on signage or banners to put on the trucks, so participants understand it’s their ice we are moving through town.  We have found that when participants know what is in the truck, they are more willing to help us bring it in.

With new structures comes a great deal of work, and painting.  So.  Much.  Painting.  Our DPW build crew, Just*Ice, was small this year after separating from the Fistica crew.  We hold them dear to our hearts as we saw their struggles with supporting the 2/3 domes, tireless work and positive attitudes.  It was a huge workload for such a small crew and they executed it beautifully.

On a very happy note, with increased sales, we also saw an increase in tips.  A large percentage of those tips were then donated by our crews.  Over $12,000 has been donated to help the preservation of polar bears, narwhals and snow leopards.

Submitted by,
Jen Conway