The Bonanza Extravaganza is underway in Hagerstown, which is set to raise millions for local firefighters and other charitable organizations.
Guests of the event have the chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes, seven Harley Davidsons and seven variations of Chevrolet cars. However, firefighters said the event is about a lot more than winning big.
“Being a firefighter itself is a brotherhood, and when the gentleman came up and told us they were doing this raffle, we instantaneously said, ‘we’re going!’ That was 10 years ago and we haven’t stopped coming since,” Scott Warner, an attendee and Baltimore County Volunteer firefighter said.
Over the past 10 years, the Bonanza has given more than $135,000 dollars to the Clear Spring, Maugansville, and Williamsport fire departments. Firefighters said for these small town EMS services, the donations make a world of a difference.
“They use that money to pay for drivers to get their rigs to the scene quicker. They can use it to pay their fuel bill, their electric bill at their fire station,” event chariman, Rick Conrad said.
More than 15,000 people will be flooding in from places as far away as Alaska to Wisconsin this weekend.
Set up crews put in close to 17 hours a day since Monday, which is more than 85 hours worth of work to set up for the event.
Guests said it is an event unlike any other, with the power to actually change lives for those who are lucky enough.
“One girl won $100,000. She was crying, screaming in my ear so loud that she can finally afford to buy a house. She had been living out of her car and that one moment right there – I’m getting chills just telling you about it. It’s powerful stuff, very emotional,” Conrad said.
The Bonanza Extravaganza is set to continue through the weekend with the chance to win up to $850,000 dollars in prizes.