By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Bear Paw Lodge in Canaan Valley was the place to be for the Thirtieth Annual Uncle Sam’s Birthday Celebration Elimination Dinner. For just $125, guests gained exclusive access for two to a phenomenal dinner, catered by the lodge, consisting of salad, cheese and cracker platters, shrimp, beef, and vegetables. Desert was a succulent blueberry cheesecake and there was access to a fully stocked bar for anyone interested. In addition, you received one of 250 chances to win a door prize, a chance at cash prizes, or if you were one of the last few remaining, a chance at grand prize of $10,000. All but one of the tickets was sold with the last one being up for auction towards the end of the night.
The room was elegantly decorated for this year’s theme, “Diamonds and Pearls”, with décor provided by Erika Smith of Ella, located in Thomas. Lanterns and candles illuminated the tables pebbled with faux diamonds and pearls that glistened in the flicker of the lights. Attendees bustled from table to table to catch up with friends while boasting Stars and Stripes themed props for a picture in front of the backdrop.
As tradition has it, David Cooper was dressed in his Uncle Sam’s attire and served as the emcee for the event. Cooper proudly displayed his Uncle Sam’s replica bobble head doll he received anonymously as a gift and thanked the patron who sent it, whoever that may be. Donna Patrick welcomed everyone to the event and sent out a heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to making this large event possible. Anna Patrick took the floor briefly as well to thank her mom for all of her hard work as well, stating, “You’re incredible mom, here’s to you.”
The purpose of this annual event is to raise money for the Tucker Community Foundation, which serves not only Tucker but six other counties in West Virginia as well as Garrett County in Maryland. Their mission is to properly steward the donations made to the foundation for the community. The event was initiated by former foundation president and local dentist, Dr. Tom Patrick. He was the original emcee for the event and this gala continues today as a tribute to his memory and a major fundraiser for the foundation.
Not only were the ticket sales going toward a good cause, but raffle tickets were circulating around the room for purchase for a chance to win one of four prize packages, ranging in value from $500 up to $2,700. The goal for the raffle was to raise $5,000 to donate to the disaster relief efforts for those affected by the recent storms, such as the towns of Harman, Whitmer, Job, and the area of Leadmine. Door prize tickets were drawn at varying times, winner must have been present to win, with balloon bursting opportunities every 25 tickets.
The night kicked off with the first ticket drawn given a chance to pop a balloon with a range of cash prizes from $250 to $1,000. Jeff and Gina Palmer were the lucky individuals with their selection of all eleven balloons, where their pop earned them $500. Tickets began to fly off the board as they were called and eliminated from the potential of the big prize, though approximately twenty-five door prizes were awarded for their contribution to the cause.
Balloon number two was popped by Wayne Smith in the amount of $250. The remainder of the balloons were awarded as follows: Kristina Jordan $500, Marc Chenoweth $1,000, Mike and Jean Ledden $250, Jodi Jones $250, Lori Wall and David Moran via proxy Rob Burns $1,000, Bruce and Andy Dalton via proxy Diane Beall $250, Milan Nypl $250, Bill Wallace via proxy Riley Barb $500, and the final balloon went to Milan Nypl for $250.
The raffle ticket sales dwindled down and it was time to begin drawing for the prize packages. The first was known as the Snowshoe Golf Package, consisting of a two night stay at Snowshoe Resort and a round of golf. The lucky winners of this package, valued at $500, were Kevin and Debbie White. The second raffle package was cleverly named the Hillbilly Honeymoon Package, valued at $1,500. The lucky winner of this drawing received a diamond and pearl encrusted earring and necklace set as well as a commemorative Henry .22 rifle. Once the numbers were read and verified, the lucky recipient of this package was Terry Stone. The Greenbrier Package was the next raffle, valued at $1,700. This prize included a three night stay for two at the Greenbrier Lodge and a $400 spending voucher. Chris and Hillary Boyce were the happy couple earning this prize package. The fourth and final raffle drawing was for the Total Tucker Package. This package included vouchers, items such as local artwork, and gift certificates from numerous entities county wide for a total value of $2,700. This final award went yet again to the lucky Kevin and Debbie White.
Following the calling of the 244th ticket, it was time to auction ticket number 250, one of the last five remaining. This ticket was a guaranteed winner of a value of no less than $400. The bidding began at $100 and ended up in a bidding war amongst three bidders. When the gavel dropped and all bids were made, the total purchase price was $3,500 from bidder, Matt Evans.
At this time, the final five ticket holders included Roscoe and Diane Beall, Voras and Lori Haynes, Margaret Brown, Tucker County Sheriff Brian Wilfong and wife Chrissy, and the auction ticket winner Matt Evans. The five remaining had the option to split the prize five ways, but at least one was in opposition so another draw commenced. This draw eliminated the Wilfong’s though they didn’t leave empty handed; their ticket earned them $400. A four way split was offered by Cooper, however yet again a draw was requested. This eliminated Brown, valuing her ticket at $600. This left Beall, Evans, and Haynes with the option of a three way split, which they gladly accepted.
The three lucky recipients engaged in a group hug before posing for pictures as the event winners. Beall commented she has been attending this event for numerous years, and this was her first time ever leaving a winner. Burns said the goal of $5,000 for the disaster relief efforts was nearly met and also explained the auction ticket money also goes into the foundation.