There are 25,000 reasons to shop local this upcoming holiday season.

The annual Downtown McAlester Cash Giveaway normally features a $10,000 grand prize — but the total is $25,000 this year in celebration of the 25th year for the drawing held during the holiday season.

Event Coordinator Jeanie McCabe said the bigger prize has caused a larger reception in the community this year than she has seen in her previous five years as coordinator.

“I mean $25,000, how can you not be (excited)?” McCabe asked.

McCabe said the event began 25 years ago after a group of McAlester residents organized the city’s now annual giveaway based on a similar event in Glenpool.

When committee members asked her how she wanted to commemorate the event's 25th year, McCabe said she wanted to give away $25,000.

She explained that the money raised from participating business goes toward expenses for advertising and the expenses behind the event and whatever is left over goes toward the grand prize and other smaller prizes.

McCabe said Sam Wampler of Freedom Ford and Cindy Carr at Fenton Nissan did a substantially larger sponsorship to help make the larger grand prize possible.

She said 93 businesses are participating in the event this year — normally 70-75 businesses participate — and she hopes more will get involved.

“We aren’t going to turn anybody down as far as being a sponsor,” McCabe said. “The tickets help promote their businesses.”

She said businesses are free to use the tickets to promote as they wish — giveaways, social media promotions, double tickets, and other promotions.

A brand-new hopper will also make its debut this year with signage promoting top sponsors.

“Our hopper has seen better days,” McCabe said. “It’s about 13 years old and over the years we’ve gotten more and more tickets with last year having 800,000 tickets.”

To claim a prize, a ticket holder must be at least 18 years old and must present a valid form of identification at the drawing. A winner must also present a social security card by the next day when they pick up the prize for tax purposes.

When a winning number is announced, the ticket holder will have five minutes to make it to the bandstand. Even though a winning ticket holder can have a law enforcement officer notify the stage that they are coming, they still have five minutes before another ticket is drawn.

Tickets must be brought to the hopper before the event starts at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at the bandstand on Choctaw Avenue in McAlester.

McCabe said there are no promises that the $25,000 grand prize will continue in upcoming drawings.

“We will continue on and if we can not continue getting the bigger sponsors to help with $25,000, we will go back to the original $10,000 its always been,” McCabe said.

McCabe thanked all of the participating businesses for their support in the event’s 25th year.

“It’s a great community project and it brings our community together,” McCabe said. “We love that we are being able to do something this big year. Giving that money to someone is fantastic, you never know who needs it.”

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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