ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Matt Smith could give away almost $100,000 tonight.
It’s Jan. 9 and Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department personnel have been selling tickets all day at the hall leading up to the big Chase the Ace draw at just after 9 p.m.
It’s a scenario Smith and other members of the department have been living out for 42 weeks while the ace remains elusive. Tonight is week 43, there’s just 11 cards left, and firefighters organizing the fundraising event expect it to top $93,000.
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.”
And if you live elsewhere in the county or the country, they’re also on Facebook Live.
“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 and number left to right. Failing that, there is a designated firefighter who draws the card for them.
Last week just before the draw, the fire hall was packed with people. The jackpot is almost $85,000.
“We feel with the numbers we’ve seen so far today that that’s a low estimate too,” Smith said on Jan. 2 minutes before the draw. “We feel we’re going to exceed our estimate. We should be $85,000 plus tonight for the jackpot and we only have 12 cards left in the deck. We’re getting really close to giving the big prize away.”
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.”
The ace wasn’t drawn Jan. 2 but the winning ticket was good for almost $5,000.
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, people can also buy tickets for $1 each at various locations from Digby to Bridgetown.
Tickets can be bought at Tom’s Pizzaria 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.