By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
Forty four people stepped to the black lock box hoping the small gold key would open their future to a new car or some cash.
The Great Lakes Auto event was designed two years ago to help area schools raise money for programs in their schools, said co-owner John Rocco.
Nine different county schools participated this year raising more than $100,000 during the last two years, he said.
The winner had the choice of taking $30,000 toward the purchase of a car or $15,000 in cash, Rocco said.
The first 44 contestants went home disappointed.
The 45th key, however, brought a smile to the faces of an Andover couple whose key opened the box. Gary Berrier, and his wife Thelma, are planning to take the money because they already have two new vehicles.
“We’re probably going to take the money,” he said.
Berrier said he felt great.
He said he bought the ticket from an employee of an Andover area business who was selling them for a grandchild. One ticket was all he bought and it turned out to be the magic winner.
“I forgot all about it until they called to tell me,” he said of making the finals.
Thelma found the ticket in the glove compartment of one of their vehicles.
Sandy Reinke, of Ashtabula, was one of the 44 that went away without a car, but was happy to help Lakeside schools.
“I was nervous, hopeful, then disappointed when it didn’t turn,” she said. Other contestants reacted with contorted faces or frowns.
After each drawing the most recent contestant picked the next person to draw for the vehicle. Contestants came from as far away as West Virginia and Macedonia after buying tickets from local people.
The drawing took place amidst the 10th Annual Great Lakes Auto Cruise-In that drew more than 260 antique cars to the dealership grounds.
A live band belted out tunes and several hundred people gathered around to watch the drawing.
Great Lakes Auto co-owner Joey Huang was the emcee for the event and co-owner John Rocco held the jar that contained all the keys.
Fifty four finalists were notified and had to show up to be considered for winning the vehicle. Each name was placed in a hat and when read the contestant picked a key from the jar and tried to open the lock box.
“We have six contestants from each (of nine) schools,” Rocco said. He said all the money from ticket sales stayed with the schools that sold them.
“One hundred percent goes back to the schools,” Huang said.
Rocco said he believes car shows are successful because people take pride in their automobiles. He said cars made in 1917 to present day vehicles were represented at the show.