By LOIS KINDLE
The Sun City Center Chamber’s Golf Cart Poker Run set a record last month when 56 residents turned out to visit seven area businesses en masse. The fundraiser was a huge win for everyone involved, said chamber CEO Dana Dittmar, and she hopes a similar number will turn out at 1 p.m. April 7.
The event’s growing popularity doesn’t surprise her. After all, who doesn’t like free food, games, handouts and learning something new?
“Everyone has a ball,” she said, noting the entourage starts and ends at the chamber. “The businesses we visit meet prospective customers and share information on their products and services. They often offer refreshments, promotional items and fun activities to lighten things up. It’s entirely up to them, and we never know what to expect.”
Last month, participants played battle-of-the-sexes trivia, received scratch-off lottery tickets inside balloons and had other fun experiences.
Hanson Services was among last month’s participating businesses.
“We had such a good time,” said administrator Georgana Collins. “It was fast, furious and fun. We got 56 new people in our door who learned about the services we provide. Like most in Sun City Center, we’re a small business, and this was a great opportunity for us to showcase what we do.”
Collins said Hanson’s offered tropical-themed beverages and temporary fish tattoos for the visitors.
“Everyone wanted them,” she said. “We laughed the entire time.”
Additionally, each business hands out a playing card to every driver, Dittmar said. At the end of the run, the chamber hosts an after-event wrap party where everyone makes the best five-card poker hand possible from the seven cards they collected for a chance to win gift cards to places like Bonefish Grill, Starbucks or Dairy Queen. The chamber provides food, beverages and prizes.
The April 7 Golf Cart Poker Run will include the following chamber-member businesses or organizations: American Momentum Bank, A+ Hearing Center, Sun Radio/West Coast Golf Cars, Cadence Bank, Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Touchstone Jewelry and the Bulk Foods Superstore.
Don Spratt, a first-time driver at last month’s event, encourages area residents to check it out.
“It was interesting visiting different places and getting good info on what (the businesses) had to offer,” he said. “There was lots of food and goodies, and I made a lot of new friends.”
Although he didn’t win anything with his pair of tens, Spratt said he “absolutely” would do it again and recommends a “good time” to others.
“I had a lot of fun,” he said.
Dittmar also encourages anyone interested to get involved.
“This will be the next to last poker run of the season,” she said, adding the chamber will host another in May and then, due to the summer heat and rain, stop them until October. “So if you’re thinking about joining us, now’s the time.”
The Sun City Center Chamber Golf Cart Poker Run is held the first Friday of the month during seasonal months. The cost is $10 per person and $50 per business to participate as a stop. All proceeds benefit the chamber’s operational funds and specifically its upcoming banquet room renovation, which is currently pending Hillsborough County permitting.
For more information, call 813-634-5111.