INVERNESS, N.S.—A wildly-popular fundraising game that attracted thousands of people to a small Cape Breton town failed to find a big winner Saturday as the “Chase the Ace” jackpot grew to more than $800,000.
The game of chance, which involves finding the ace of spades in a deck of playing cards, saw its jackpot grow from $35 last October to $884,147.76 on Saturday.
On top of that, the person with the winning ticket—and a chance to pick a card—got 20 percent of the total ticket sales, which on Saturday were just over $941,000.
Mike Fraser, who’s been the local Legion’s bartender for 20 years, says people came from as far away as New Brunswick and P.E.I. for a chance to play.
He added so many people were participating that a temporary cellphone tower was brought in to handle a surge in cellphone traffic.
The draw raised money for the local Legion and a centre for adults with intellectual disabilities.
Cameron MacQuarrie, vice-president of the local Royal Canadian Legion, said the card drawn was a seven of hearts.
There are six cards left in the deck for the next draw on Sept. 26.
MacQuarrie said they are waiting two weeks so officials can come up with a plan for dealing with the influx of so many people to the small community.
The streets of Inverness were jammed with cars Saturday and many private parking lots suddenly sprang up—most of them charging about $10 for a spot.
Extra parking also was offered at a local school and the harness-racing track.
Local businesses welcomed the late-season tourism boom, which included boats coming across the Northumberland Strait from P.E.I.
MacQuarrie said the event was transformed into a kind of Ceilidh-type party.
He said it’s the second year for the draw, which he had expected would raise only about $30,000.
“But this year it’s a whole different beast, so to speak,” MacQuarrie noted in a recent interview.