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Attendance down, but 50/50 pot sky high

We Care raises more than $10,000 in last Cruise Night raffle

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 8:17 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 3:51 p.m. CST

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(MCT) — A strong season came to a close Saturday as the Morris Cruise Night organizers put on their final event for 2012.

Herb Wyeth, Cruise Night founder, said the closing Cruise Night brought in 226 vehicles, a smaller number of cars than other Cruise Nights of the year. He said he believed the lower participation was because it was the rain date for the event.

While Cruise Nights are normally not rescheduled, Wyeth said it was reconsidered because of the Lions Club Fall Classic Car Show Sunday.

"We wanted to do it because it was our first attempt of doing it with the Lions Club," he said. " … We were bound and determined to make the best of it, no matter what."

In all, about 52 cities were represented at Saturday's Cruise Night, he said, and the evening's beneficiary was We Care of Grundy County. We Care's Executive Director, Denise Gaska, said the total sales of 50/50 raffle tickets was $10,742.

Wyeth said that was likely the second-highest pot they've seen at the Cruise Night. Donna Wakeman of Verona won half the pot, totaling $5,371.

Gaska said Monday that having an additional week from the Cruise Night's rained out original date was key in helping to raise the pot, as was the involvement of local businesses who bought tickets.

"The community was so supportive and so helpful," she said.

Part of the strategy in raising funds, she said, was posting links on We Care's Facebook page to local businesses and people who purchased $100 worth of tickets.

"We're so grateful for all the support we got, especially from the Facebook postings," she said.

Gaska said the funds raised go to a number of different areas where the organization supports area residents.

"We will be using it to help people in need here," she said. "We use it to buy food, we use it to help pay rent, prescriptions and utilities. Nothing particular — just wherever the need is greatest at the time."

In addition to the raffle, Wyeth said winning vehicles on display included the beneficiary's choice award, given to Shelby Haynes of Morris, for Haynes' 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, and the celebrity's choice award, selected by Brian Steed and given to Daniel Hopkins of Joliet for his 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

Looking back on the season, Wyeth said there was strong attendance and participation among area vehicle owners.

"This was a great year," he said. "Up until the last event, we averaged about 750 cars a night, which is unheard of."

He credited its success to the local residents, businesses and volunteers that provide support.

"All the local people really support us and the people come out (to Cruise Nights)," he said. "That's huge."

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