Bonanza Extravaganza kicks off

May 08, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown firefighters worked feverishly Friday to prepare the Hagerstown Speedway for the Fourth Annual Bonanza Extravaganza.

John Murray, vice president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1605 Foundation, the organization that hosts the event, said the extravaganza is held to raise money for philanthropic causes in Hagerstown.

Firefighters spent $60,000 of the money that was raised last year to buy a van for Antietam Healthcare Foundation to shuttle cancer patients to and from chemotherapy treatments, Murray said. This year's charity will be chosen at a later date.

"I could not be more proud," Murray said. "It is so humbling to put an event like this together that brings 13,000 people through Hagerstown. With that money, we're able to support charitable organizations."


Murray said $800,000 in prizes -- including a Corvette, seven Harley-Davidson motorcycles and cash -- will be given away during the two-day event, which began at 4 p.m. Friday.

Prize winners will be announced every five minutes from noon today until 9 p.m., when the $100,000 grand prize will be awarded, Murray said. The gates will close at 11 tonight.

Firefighters raised $1 million by selling 10,000 tickets for $100 each to purchase the prizes, Murray said. The money that is left over will be donated to charity or used to rent chairs, tents, tables and other equipment to stage the event.

Murray said the admission price includes a catered meal and is good for both days of the extravaganza.

Only 600 people attended the first day of the inaugural Bonanza Extravaganza four years ago, Murray said. That number swelled to 7,000 last year.

Murray said more than 150 hotel rooms have been booked this weekend in Washington County by people who will attend the event.

"It brings people to Hagerstown," Murray said. "The more people that come here and enjoy it, the better off we are."

Murray said event organizers contracted deputies from the Washington County Sheriff's Office to provide security.

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