NEWPORT — Sebasticook Valley Snowmobile Club will observe 25 years of Pine Tree Ride-Ins with this year’s event planned for Feb. 6-8 in Newport.
As a kickoff for the festivities, Bob and Sharon Creighton, co-chairmen of the event, met with the Sebasticook Valley Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to talk about the fund-raiser and enlist the aid of local businesses to make this year’s ride-in the best ever.
Since the beginning, snowmobilers have raised nearly $1.7 million to benefit the Pine Tree Camp in Rome for physically and mentally handicapped children. Annually, snowmobilers from across the state raise more than $150,000 to supplement the camp budget. The Creightons would like to see that tally reach $250,000 for this year’s silver anniversary event.
“If people are touched [about Pine Tree camp] as a lot of you have been, sometime, somewhere, they’ll all come through,” Bob Creighton said. “We’ve got to educate them to what Pine Tree Camp can do for these kids.”
The success of each year’s fund raising has made the ride-in the fourth-largest fund-raiser in the country, according to Creighton. The event is surpassed only by national campaigns, such as the March of Dimes and Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“That’s big,” said Creighton, in his best carnival pitch. “We’re number four, and we’re only one little state? Maine people have big hearts.”
Creighton also was impressed to learn that fund raising is achieved with 70,000 registered snowmobilers, while other northern states can boast 200,000 to 300,000 sleds and don’t begin to match the fund-raising efforts.
Area businesses were asked Wednesday to participate in this year’s ride-in with a float or business decorations, to sell raffle tickets, display posters and sell special $1 tickets to customers for window displays. In addition to the local raffle donations, the clubs will sell tickets on two mini Ski-Doo snowmobiles for children. Local businesses and individuals also were encouraged to donate items for the annual auction planned for Friday, Feb. 6.
Other events include a ride-in royalty pageant and talent show, the traditional egg run with radio personalities from Q106.5 and WABI-TV from Levant to Newport, radar runs on the lake, snowmobile obstacle course, outdoor pork barbecue, a parade dedicated to a member of SVCC, ham supper and fireworks. A pancake breakfast Sunday morning will cap off the three-day fund-raiser.
“It’s easy to raise money for Pine Tree Camp,” said Red Dunphy, who is raising funds for Pittsfield’s Driftbusters.
Dunphy and his club have reigned as top fund-raisers for the event for several years with more than $30,000 annually. Dunphy expects this year’s total will easily surpass those of previous years.