Freedom Park Fundraiser Loaded with Loot

3rd Annual Snowball Ready to Roar!


By Dianne Alward-Biery3rd Annual Snowball Ready to Roar!
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver

HARRISON – Last year’s 2nd Annual Snowball was a resounding success. It not only brought out hundreds of community members and visitors from other areas to enjoy dinner and dancing, it also raised a whopping $21,000 for the Veterans Freedom Park Statue Fund. Not bad for an event which lasted only a few hours.

Of course, the event is much larger than just those few hours. It includes many months of preparation, largely done on the organizational back of one Maye Tessner-Rood, who canvasses businesses near and far, gathering donations of products, art, services and more, which are then raffled or auctioned off for the cause.

Last year’s Snowball raised more than enough to purchase the first two statues for the park, and this year looks to have all the makings of an encore performance. Tessner-Rood has rounded up three outstanding raffle prizes: A large metal lawn cart loaded with Made in Michigan products from A to Z; a 20-gauge Winchester 26-inch SPX shotgun supplied by Jay’s Sporting Goods; and a trip for two to the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

In describing those prizes, she said the wagon itself was worth more than $200, and with the items it contains [170 items so far] could be worth more than $1,000. She said that coming up with an item for the letter “X” was a little difficult, so it became “X-tra cash.”

Beyond the large prizes, Tessner-Rood has traveled to the other three counties represented at the park [Gladwin Isabella and Midland] and spread the word about the effort to create a park which fully recognizes and honors those whose military service has supported their country. She said that, frequently, as soon as she said it was for veterans, prospective donors didn’t hesitate and eagerly stepped forward with a contribution.

During the last week of December, prizes were quickly stacking up, and ticket sales speeding up. As Tessner-Rood put it, “It seemed as if people were waiting ’til after the holidays, and now it’s full steam ahead.

“I sold 30 tickets to one group just this morning,” she said.

Tessner-Rood said this year’s Snowball will include a Lotto Board; a Money Bag drawing [$5 per entry] – lots of chances for attendees to get lucky while helping to grow the statue fund.

It can’t be overstated how many, varied silent auction items have been donated for this event: more than eight pages of listings – so far.  A short list includes: a hand-crafted forged steel knife from Twisted Fire Forge of Harrions; a graphite fly rod, reel, fly line and a one-hour casting lesson from Scientific Anglers in Midland [$300 value]; hand-crafted jewelry by Liz Crafton of Harrison; a zip line tour for two from Snow Snake Ski & Golf of Harrison; a framed Michigan copper art piece from A State of Copper in Millington; bronze finished soldier sculptures representing Operation Enduring Freedom, and loads of gift certificates. Yet, as Tessner-Rood says, “There’s more coming every day.”

Garments featuring graphics related to the event also are being sold, including T-shirts, crewneck sweatshirts, pull-on and zip-up hoodies. Costs range from $15 to $30; child sizes are also offered.

Tessner-Rood is extremely appreciative of all the donor support the Snowball has received, and especially so where repeat contributors are concerned.

“It’s been a really great partnership, with all of them,” she said.

Fundraising extends beyond the prizes and merchandise. It also includes a graduated range of tax-deductible sponsorship levels. Those levels include Diamond/$1,000 or more; Platinum/$500; Gold/$300; Silver/$100; Bronze/$50; and Peweter/any other amount. Tessner-Rood said this will allow substantial donors to be recognized, and a range which will allow more people to participate in this community project.

Music for the event will be provided by Bernadette Giannola’s Best Entertainment. If a costumed event is what appeals, attendees are invited to dress in 1920s to 1940s attire – and travel back to the Roaring ’20s or get their ’40s Flapper on. Now doubt there will be a few attendees who love the Charleston or can’t resist doing the Lindy Hop, which remained popular across all three decades. Costumes are fun, however, formal attire is not required, only a desire to enjoy an evening out and be part of this truly worthwhile fundraising effort.

The Jan. 13 event will begin with the Honor Guard presenting the Colors at 5:30 p.m. Dinner service will begin at 6 p.m., and will include roast beef, chicken, potatoes, vegetable, roll, salad and sides, and dessert.

Snowball Dinner/Dance tickets cost $15 and are available in Harrison at the Clare County Veterans Office; Harrison Moose; Jackpine Restaurant; Harrison Chamber of Commerce; S&S Collision: the Clare County Cleaver or from Maye Tessner-Rood. Raffle tickets cost $5 each or three for $10, and are available at these same outlets.

For more information, visit the Veterans Freedom Park Facebook page;; or call Renee Haley, Clare County Director of Veterans Services, at 989-539-3273; or Maye Tessner-Rood at 989-944-0075.