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Six lucky winners to win cash at Jingle Bells gala Thursday

The time has come to rifle through pocket and purse, collect the green tickets and, as has become customary in some households, sort them in numerical order.

The Jingle Bells sweepstakes drawings are at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17 at Century School. The event begins at 5 p.m.

Six Park Rapids area shoppers will win a total of $10,000 in cash at the "gala" prize drawing event, now in its eighth year.

In addition, separate tickets will be issued for door prizes for those attending.

"Second chance" drawings will put smiles on many a face, with the tickets going back into the "bin" for the grand prize, cash drawings.

There will be six cash winners, one claiming $5,000 and five taking home $1,000 each. An estimated 700,000 tickets have accumulated for the drawing.

"The businesses of Park Rapids make this happen," Park Rapids Area Chamber director Katie Magozzi said of merchants' unique "thank you" to patrons.

Dick Rutherford will assume the role of Jolly Old St. Nick. And, as is becoming tradition, St. Joseph's Choraliers will lead a Christmas carol sing-along.

The Chamber Ambassadors will serve a holiday dinner of wild rice soup, compliments of Secret Garden; twice-smoked ham sandwiches, thanks to J&B Foods; condiments and chips, via Coborn's, and pop from Nei Bottling. Cost is $2.50.

The event has evolved from random seating to a rite of defining lucky tables, after three winners have now been present at the drawings, Magozzi said.

"Historically, all the big winners have been local," she noted.

Area residents have adopted the drawing as holiday tradition.

A patron at a local grocery store was recently asked at the checkout if he collected the tickets.

"If I didn't show up with the tickets, my wife would send me back to the store," he said, grinning.

Winning ticket holders not present at the drawing have until noon Friday, Jan. 8 to present their ticket at the Chamber office.

All sectors of the business community are participating, with banks, restaurants, grocery stores, downtown merchants, the media and services - such as opticians and electricians - on board.

Following the drawing, winning numbers will be posted in the Enterprise, at and, at participating merchants and at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.