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Bonanza prizes draw thousands

May 13, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY

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The first of four digits that would win $100,000 for someone on Saturday drew a mix of cheers and boos.

Mike Weller, who announced the prize drawings at the Bonanza Extravaganza at Hagerstown Speedway, moved on to the next number.

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More cheers, more jeers.

Rain was pouring all around the cavernous white tent, but not inside, where eyes were fixed on the winning plastic balls.

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After a smattering of reactions, Weller moved on to the last number ...

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Weller repeated the winning sequence - 9281. A few whoops were false alarms.

No winner - yet.

Two hours later, organizers still were trying to touch base with the holder of the top ticket.

It wasn't unusual for time to pass before people claimed prizes Saturday at the Bonanza Extravaganza, a firefighters' union fundraiser that debuted last year.

Mark Clopper's winning ticket was drawn at 3:30 p.m. But he was too busy selling tip-jar tickets at the Bonanza with the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Department to notice.

About 7:30 p.m., he wandered over to the prize board and saw that he had won - a 2007 Harley-Davidson Road King.

Clopper hugged Rick Conrad, an event organizer with the union, and called out, "Awesome!"

Waiting to claim his prize, Clopper's mind raced almost as fast as the bike will.

"Where am I going to keep it?" he wondered.

This year's two-day Bonanza Extravaganza promised more than $800,000 in prizes, including some Friday. The list included motorcycles, sport utility vehicles, trailers, personal watercraft and plenty of cash.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1605 in Hagerstown has formed a nonprofit foundation to give away proceeds. Last year, about $150,000 that the union cleared went to local nonprofit groups.

The union sold all 10,000 tickets, at $100 apiece, for this year's Bonanza, said Glenn Fuscsick, treasurer of the union and the foundation.

He estimated Saturday's crowd at between 7,000 and 8,000 people. Some attended on a $20 guest pass that excluded them from prize drawings.

People listened to live music. They gambled on games involving wheels and balls and left behind heaps of losing tip-jar tickets. They drank beer and they ate.

On Friday, at the Gary's Pig Roast booth, "for eight hours, it was a nonstop line for fries and sandwiches," employee Deborah Harding said. "I came back (Saturday) morning on 2 1/2 hours of sleep."

Just before the final prize drawing, two men competed for free T-shirts by doing push-ups. A group of women tried to dance the "nastiest."

Terri Barker held a winning ticket - it belonged to her mother, Pat, who couldn't leave her home in Great Cacapon, W.Va.

When Terri Barker called her mother to say she won $1,000, "at first, she thought I was kidding."

Last year, Terri's brother, Zane, won a 4-by-4 vehicle.

Michael Katzenberger of Hagerstown wasn't even at the speedway - he was painting at home - until his maid called him.

"My niece was screaming, 'You won something! You won something!' I didn't know what it was," he said.

Instead of his prize, he decided to take its cash value of $8,000.

"I've been married for over 25 years," he said. "I won't see the money. It'll be in my hand for less than 30 minutes."

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