Bonana draws thousands

May 15, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ


Thomas Covell of Frederick, Md., figured he would stop by the Bonanza Extravaganza - a $750,000 cash-and-prize giveaway festival at Hagerstown Speedway - on Saturday, but not right away.

He kept a breakfast date with friends in the morning, then ran errands.

He called his brother, Jack, and asked him to check Thomas' numbers when he went to the event.

Jack Covell, who lives in Clear Spring, called back in the afternoon with good news. Thomas had won the day's first prize, one of the most valuable - a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette with a value of $55,620.

Thomas Covell arrived about 3 p.m. to several offers from people he didn't know. The newest decision in his life was who would get the car. Covell just got a new Jeep Cherokee. His wife has a Mazda.


The 2006 Bonanza Extravaganza was the creation of the International Association of Fire Fighters' Local 1605 in Hagerstown, which adapted it from a similar event in Cumberland, Md.

The plan called for selling 10,000 tickets at $100 apiece.

Each ticket was entered in an all-day raffle, with prizes given away every five minutes. Including seven motorcycles, seven other vehicles, camping trailers, guns and $180,000 cash, the treasure chest of prizes totaled $750,000.

A bonus drawing for a chance to win $1 million was held Saturday night. Raffle tickets were sold for $10 apiece. Forty winners were given a chance to guess a four-digit code and win the grand prize.

Local 1605 has established a nonprofit foundation to distribute proceeds from this weekend's event to charities.

Glenn Fuscsick, the treasurer of the union and president of the foundation, said the foundation definitely will get money, but he wasn't sure of the exact amount on Saturday.

He said the union believes it sold all 10,000 tickets, but still has to crunch numbers.

About 4,500 people had come to the speedway by Saturday at 4 p.m., and another 500 or so were expected. Those who bought $100 tickets could bring a guest for $20 more, but guests were not eligible for the big raffle.

About 750 people attended on Friday, when the weekend's food and beer sales, music and gambling began.

Still, dozens of large raffle prizes were the draw for many.

Mark Baker of Hagerstown won the 3:30 p.m. drawing for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Walking with his brother, Paul, to claim his prize, Mark Baker said he would have preferred the Corvette, but the motorcycle is fine, too.

Just then, Thomas Covell unfolded his frame from the inside of his new Corvette, which was going to be delivered to his house.

Tonya Tuell of Smithsburg cheered and pumped her arm when her number was picked for a $1,000 prize.

She thanked her friend, Terri Cohen, for tipping her off about the Bonanza Extravaganza.

The women and their husbands, Jim Tuell and Brad Cohen, agreed that a share of the winnings would go to "Pappy" - a man they didn't know until he let them set up a pop-up camper on his property near the speedway.

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