Hi Boys and Girls,
Have you ever wondered what the Red Lantern is? Why would the last musher to cross the finish line get a special award? The Red Lantern actually started as a joke in 1953 during the Fur Rendezvous Race. It then passed over to the Iditarod. Today it is a symbol of perseverance and mushers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when receiving it. This year the Red Lantern will be awarded to Magnus Kaltenborn.
There is another lantern that is called the Widows Lamp. The Iditarod Trail Committee lights a widows lamp in Nome on the first Sunday of March, the day of the restart. They hang it on the Burled Arch and it stays lit until the final musher crosses the finish line. It is then extinguished. This practice came from the days of the Gold Rush when dog sled teams were used to move freight and mail. Each roadhouse along the trail would light a kerosene lamp and hang it outside the roadhouse to help the mushers find their way in the snow and darkness. It was also a signal that there was a dog team out on the trail. The lamp was extinguished when the dog team safely reached its destination. Magnus blew out the lamp when he crossed under the arches signaling that all the teams were off the trail.
Hope that explains the two lanterns. The teams are all resting now and getting ready for the Finishers Banquet. All awards will be given at that time.
See you on the trail,