'We don't want to go nuts like McHenry': Queen of Hearts game coming to Libertyville
Libertyville American Legion Post 329 will sell tickets for a Queen of Hearts fundraising game -- but don't expect the mayhem that comes with an enormous winning prize.
"We don't want our pots to get up to the millions of dollars and have all the problems with traffic or things like that," said Bruce Matsunaga, post commander. "We don't want to go nuts like McHenry."
He was referring to McHenry VFW Post 4600, which ended its long running Queen of Hearts game in September by drawing tickets until a winner of the more than $7 million prize surfaced. A new game is expected to start in late May, with a pot of about $3.4 million.
Matsunaga said he has been assured by operators of big games that the small container Post 329 has to spin the tickets will be sufficient to begin.
"I'm looking at who our potential players are (and) mainly now it will be our bingo players," he said. "I don't anticipate a lot of foot traffic."
Tickets will be sold from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays, beginning April 8, and noon to 5 p.m. (bingo night) Wednesdays, when the drawings will be held at the post headquarters, known as the Town Hall, 715 N. Milwaukee Ave., in downtown Libertyville.
Tickets will cost $2 each rather than $1 last year in McHenry, and larger weekly prizes will be offered to theoretically keep the pot from growing too rapidly, according to Matsunaga.
"Libertyville has limited our pot to $250,000," he said. "I don't see it as a problem," he said of potential issues with crowds or traffic.
On Tuesday, the game became official as the village board approved the raffle license to be valid until April 1, 2020, and waived a bond requirement that would have cost Post 329 about $5,000.
"The Legion has done a lot for the village," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "It benefits the Legion, it benefits the village and the residents. We don't want to see that building deteriorate."
The prominent Town Hall was constructed in 1894 for Libertyville Township. Post 329, established in 1920, bought the building in 1973 when it had outhouses only.
Matsunaga, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s, became post commander last summer. Post 329 has about 145 members, but only about 17 are active. They have an average age of about 75, he said.
"Their attitude for the last 20 years has been, 'It's good enough,'" Matsunaga said of the facilities and operation.
Post 329 will keep 20 percent of the pot and, like other organizations, will use Queen of Hearts to raise money for basic interior work such as painting, donations to organizations such as the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County and, eventually, scholarships.
"My goal is to turn this organization into a better, more prosperous, giving organization and to improve the post," Matsunaga said.