Chase the Ace chair Bernice Curley with carpenter and firefighter John MacKinnon inside the new crate under construction to hold lottery tickets.
-by Anne Farries
The parking lot at the Dancing Goat restaurant overflowed, a traffic jam clogged the highway in front of the fire hall, and at the Co-op grocery store, customers were perched in every aisle, writing their names on tickets.
That was life in NE Margaree Saturday where the prize in the volunteer firefighters’ Chase the Ace lottery inched closer to $1.2 million.
At the grocery store, clerk Donna Marie Leblanc watched 30 people lined up at noon in front of a ticket table in the produce section, smiled, and said, “We need our firefighters.”
At Ingraham’s Rite-Stop, a gas station and convenience store, about two dozen people were inside on Saturday morning buying tickets.
Throughout the community, a few people voiced minor complaints about traffic and parking, but most were cheerful as they put down $20 for a book of 12 tickets, one of which will be drawn at random Wednesday night.
The contest has run – and the prize has snowballed – since July 19th, 2017.
Wednesday, the grand prize will be delivered if a lucky ticket buyer also draws the ace from a deck that started with 52 cards, has shrunk by one card each week, and is now down to two.
To hold the half-million tickets conservatively estimated to have been sold so far this week, organizers built a waist-deep wooden crate the size of a walk-in closet after the original draw barrel, then a second larger barrel, then a swimming pool, proved too small.
People have arrived from all over Cape Breton and the main land to buy tickets, echoing a similar contest run by The Royal Canadian Legion in Inverness village in 2015.
Then, the winner had to be present to choose a playing card when their name was drawn.
In the current lottery, the organizers will call the ticket-buyer and give them the option of assigning a designate from the volunteer organizers to choose the card.
If the ace doesn’t go tomorrow night, the final draw will be July 25th, said organizer Bernice Curley.
“We need enough time to prepare tickets,” Curley said.
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