Chasing the jackpot in North River

Mitch MacDonald
Published on March 29, 2016

Dean Smith, left, a lieutenant with the North River Fire Department and chief Anson Grant hold a roll of tickets for the Chase the Ace draw being held in collaboration with the Kingston Legion. The draw has created a big buzz in the community, with firefighters selling the tickets in a makeshift drive-thru at the department every Saturday.


It's easier than getting your daily double double, with a jackpot that puts Roll Up the Rim to Win to shame.

The unique idea of creating a makeshift drive-thru, as well as doing a "proxy" draw, is helping the North River Fire Department (NRFD) and Kingston Legion reach heights they never dreamed of with Chase the Ace.

The jackpot for the community lottery is surging, with this week's amount expected to be about $150,000.

"It really has taken off, especially since it hit the 100-thousand mark," said fire chief Anson Grant. "Everyone seems to like the pre-sell drive-thru. It's just as fast and quick as going through Tim Hortons."

Most Chase the Ace events pick up more steam if they get closer to the end of the deck.

However, with 25 cards still left in the deck, the NRFD has generated a buzz by selling tickets in a drive-thru at the department every Saturday.

Buyers are able to purchase as many tickets as they want without leaving their car.

In fact, they don't even have to attend the weekly draw.

Lieut. Dean Smith said information is collected from those going through the drive-thru, who do not get an actual physical ticket in case they don't attend the draw.

If their ticket is picked, a legion member will try to pick the ace for them.

"You don't have to be here. That's what makes ours unique and that's what helped us reach totals that no one else has. No one has been at this jackpot amount with 26 cards still left," said Smith.


The result has been packed crowds during the Saturday night draws, which are held at the Kingston Legion and skyped back to the NRFD, as well an excited buzz throughout the community.

In fact, many are hoping the event continues to grow bigger and bigger.

"It's surprising how many people come through the drive-thru, hand you twenty dollars and say 'this is fantastic, we know where the money is going and we hope it doesn't go this weekend' because they're already satisfied with just the consolation," said Smith. "They just want to see the fire department and legion get more. They want to see the pot become as big as it has in other places."

Allan Crane, president of the Kingston Legion, said the money raised from the draw has already exceeded the initial goal of $10,000.

He said it's re-kindled a strong connection between the two organizations and is helping bring new members and financial stability to the legion.

While initial sales were slow, it began picking up more when the NRFD began offering the drive-thru in October.

"That was an absolute stroke of genius by the Fire Department. Dean Smith was the guy who moved that along, but the whole department has been absolutely tremendous," said Crane. "It's been outstanding and I think the partnership that was really strong years ago is back on the ground."


How it works

- Tickets are sold for $5 each, with 50 per cent of sales split between the North River Fire Department and the Kingston Legion

- The remainder ultimately goes to ticket buyers, with 30 per cent being put into the jackpot and 20 per cent to the weekly consolation prize.

- Since the consolation works out to $1 from every ticket sold, the weekly amount also shows the number of tickets bought. This past week, it was over $12,265.

- Tickets are sold at Leary's Independent Grocery in Cornwall and the Cornwall Esso on Fridays, 6-8 p.m. They're also sold at the fire department on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

- More information on the draw is available at