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‘Chase the Ace has brought us back:’ how the event has saved Berwick’s legion

Berwick Legion member Ann Steadman picks her card after her ticket number was picked during Friday nights Chase The Ace Draw help at the legion.
Berwick Legion member Ann Steadman picks her card after her ticket number was picked during Friday nights Chase The Ace Draw help at the legion. - Mark Goudge

Berwick legion brought back from the brink of closing, now thriving thanks to fundraiser

BERWICK, NS – For more than four years, Kings County residents have been coming out in droves to support the Berwick legion’s Chase the Ace, and a little snowy weather didn’t stop them Jan. 5.

Alfred Dalton, who looks after Chase the Ace for the Berwick legion, says the fundraiser has been running since August 2013.

“We’ve done pretty good on it – right now, our profits are up to $40,000, around that,” he said. “In that short time, that’s a lot. At one point, we were on the verge of the doors closing. Chase the Ace has brought us back.”

Legion members serve up weekly meals along with the fundraiser, which has also helped with the bottom line, said Dalton, who is also a past-president of the legion.

Ticket seller Dave MacAskill spins the drum with the draw tickets in it at the Friday night event.
Ticket seller Dave MacAskill spins the drum with the draw tickets in it at the Friday night event.

“The ladies here who look after the meals do a fantastic job with them,” he said. “Between (the meals) and Chase the Ace, we’re above board.”

More than that, though, it’s allowed the legion to thrive.

“It means a great deal to us – it’s kept our doors open, and we can do things that we couldn’t do before,” Dalton said. “We needed some upgrading to the building, we’ve done that. We just put these heat pumps in here this year. We’ve got a new ramp out front. We’ve done all these things we needed to do, and we still have a lot of upgrading to go.”

Fifty per cent of the funds raised through Chase the Ace stays with the legion, with 20 per cent of the evening’s take going to the ticket draw winner each week and the remaining 30 per cent going into the jackpot that builds every week.

“Whoever wins – if they cut the ace – they get the jackpot,” Dalton said.

Legion members purchase Chase the Ace tickets and talk strategy as things get underway.
Legion members purchase Chase the Ace tickets and talk strategy as things get underway.

Since a million dollar win in Cape Breton several years ago, Chase the Ace has become a very popular fundraiser for groups across the province, which Dalton says has helped net a lot of support for the Berwick event.

“It’s camaraderie,” he said. “We usually have entertainment too, on Friday nights, and we usually get a lot of people who stay over for the entertainment that starts after the Chase the Ace is done.”

Since 2013, the pot has been won five or six times, he said. Only once the jackpot has reached $6,000, but now, the pot is on the verge of $6,000.

That’s where the jackpot usually is when it’s won, but it all depends when the ace is pulled.

“We’ve had draws and we’ve lost – we’ve put in seed money and it goes,” he said with a chuckle. “But that only happened once.”

Like the other people at the legion that night, he was hoping his number would be pulled – “I donate $20 every week,” he said with a laugh – but he hasn’t won yet.

But, he adds, it’s all up to chance.

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