ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Matt Smith could give away more than $105,000 when the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department’s Chase the Ace resumes Jan. 23.
Smith and his crew of ARVFD members have been at it for almost a year, with the Wednesday draw nights becoming a social evening and the jackpot growing by leaps and bounds as word spreads about the elusive ace of spades.
On Jan. 9 Theresa Owen-Johnson’s ticket was drawn, and while she drew a spade, it wasn’t the ace. A big cheer went up in the fire hall when the nine of spades was turned up. The ace was safe for another week. But Owens-Johnson walked away with $6,674.26 just for having her ticket pulled from the drum that contained more than 30,000 little pink pieces of paper.
That Wednesday evening draw is a scenario Smith and other members of the department have been living out for 43 weeks while the ace remains elusive. If Owens had drawn the ace, she would have won $95,913.
Now there are only 10 cards left in the deck.
Firefighters would normally hold a draw on Jan. 16, but they’re taking a break until Jan. 23, giving organizers a breather and more time to get ready for what is sure to be the biggest night yet.
Smith said one of the biggest misconceptions about Chase the Ace is that you have to be there to win. In fact you can be anywhere in Canada and if your number is drawn, you’ll get a call.
“You do not have to be here to win. We have people buying them all across Canada now,” Smith said. “If you have a friend or a family member here in the town and you can get your money to them they can buy your tickets for you. If we draw someone’s name from Alberta or British Columbia if there’s a phone number on the ticket we’ll give them a call.”
The fire department doesn’t sell tickets online or through e-trasnfers.
But if you live elsewhere in the county or the country, they’re also on Facebook Live so you can watch the draw from anywhere.
“If you go to our Facebook Page, which is Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department, we go live approximately at 8:45 p.m. and all our presentation and the draw is live on Facebook.”
If winners aren’t at the hall when their ticket is drawn, they are called and either come to the fire hall or the cards are laid out in rows and the winner can pick the row and number left to right the way Owen-Johnson did. Failing that, there is a designated firefighter who draws the card for them.
For the Jan. 9 draw, the fire hall was packed with people. The jackpot was almost $95,913.
While people are at the hall for the draw, they come early for the fun of it. Smith and his crew put on a show every week.
“That’s kind of been our thing,” Smith said. “We started out early on with a couple of smoke detectors as a door prize. It kind of just grew its own wings from there. We started adding a few door prizes and then local businesses started to get on board and wanted to donate. Forty-two weeks later here we are and it’s become a social night for a lot of people. It’s a great fundraiser but there’s a lot of people who come every week just to get out and talk to people and see people. It’s been a great community event as well.”
In the end, they’re raising money for a new tanker truck worth more than $400,000.
“We have a tanker truck we ordered back early in the year (2018),” said Smith. “That’s one of the things that we’re putting some of the money towards, and we’re hoping in the next little bit to also present to the public a few other smaller purchases that we’re looking to make with some of the money we’ve made from this program”.
While the fire hall is open all day on the day of the draw, people can also buy tickets for $1 each at various locations from Digby to Bridgetown.
Tickets can be bought at Tom’s Pizzeria in Lequille, Lequille Country Store, Annapolis Royal Home Hardware, Double D Convenience Store in Granville Ferry, Crows Nest Dining in Hillsburn, Josie’s in Digby, and Nob’s Farm Market in Bridgetown.