An outport home to about 100 people is hosting swelling crowds as the elusive ace avoids capture week after week.
The volunteer fire department in Little Bay, about 20 kilometres from Springdale, wants a new truck — and worries its rickety 1983 Chevrolet pickup isn’t reliable or safe enough to transport volunteers to calls.
So after hearing about other communities fundraising through the popular rising-jackpot game, fire Chief Steve Walker said the town started its own — never dreaming, he added, that the weekly draws would summon more than 1,000 hopefuls.
“When you’re lucky enough to hold onto the ace … the word gets around,” Walker said.
The bulk of visitors come from nearby Springdale, as well as towns on the Baie Verte Peninsula — with one man even driving in each week from St John’s.
“He’s after being here about four times now. He stays overnight,” said Walker.
Walker said given the town’s small indoor facilities, Little Bay’s visitors will have to mill around outside as they wait for the draw.
He expects Thursday night’s jackpot to exceed $40,000 — an amount that far surpassed their expectations.
The cash will fund replacement equipment for its 25 volunteers, but until the department gets funding approval from the provincial government, they’ve yet to decide how to spend it.
A new pumper truck, Walker said, fetches $500,000, far exceeding the department’s budget. But new suits, boots and helmets are also needed.
“We’re just a small fire department with all older equipment,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic fundraiser.”