What started as a gimmick to keep people’s interest in tough economic times ended up attracting more attention to the Craig Beautification Committee’s annual fundraiser than ever before.
The Beautification Committee raised about $11,000 in raffle ticket sales for a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, which was given away Saturday at the Centennial Mall after the annual Parade of Lights event.
Craig resident Amy Updike won the car, while five others won runner-up prizes of $200 each in Craig Chamber of Commerce spree bucks.
“In the past, we have just solicited donations from individuals, businesses and ranchers,” said Sally Smith, a Beautification Committee founding member. “The economy is a little strained so we decided to widen our base.”
She added that the group’s previous high was around $4,000 to $5,000, meaning the Cadillac more than doubled the fundraiser’s success.
Smith said the committee has not decided what it will spend the funds on, but she feels confident it will finish its work on the corner of Finley Lane and Victory Way.
Beautification Committee members have worked with the city for a couple years to landscape part of the intersection and need only some flowers and rocks to finish, Smith said.
Vic Updike, the husband of the raffle’s grand prize winner, said the car was a huge surprise.
“Neither one of us has ever won anything, barely even $2 on a Powerball ticket,” he said.
They plan to hold onto their new Cadillac, Vic Updike said, and can’t wait to drive it with the top down when the weather warms up.
“She’s sure excited, and she’s real happy,” he said.
Smith said she was thankful to her husband, John, for donating the Cadillac, the centerpiece of this year’s fundraiser, and for wanting to make Craig a more attractive place for visitors.
“He is very interested in seeing Craig cleaned up and made more attractive,” Smith said. “He had seen us trying to get money the years prior, and I don’t know, he decided that was a good thing to do.”
Smith said she is encouraged by the progress the Beautification Committee has made in the three years since it began — such as the hanging flower baskets on downtown Yampa Avenue.
She thanked other residents for joining the cause.
“We’ve really tried to encourage people to clean up their places and plant flowers and think kind of like that,” she said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but I think we’ve made some inroads, and hopefully, we can continue to be able to inspire businesses to make their properties look nice."