ALPENA, Mich.—Winners from near and far gathered at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Downtown Alpena to receive their raffle winnings. Jodene Compton of Presque Isle, Mich., won the wooden Chesapeake Light Craft Eastport Pram that was built by the Thunder Bay Area Community Boat Builders. Melissa Lane and her family drove from Sturgis, Mich., to pick up the wooden paddle board that was handcrafted by the Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing’s Community Boat Building program in Tawas, Mich.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Jodene Compton when asked how she felt about winning the beautifully handcrafted wooden sailing pram. “I bought a ticket to support my friend, Carol Shafto, who serves on the board for the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It’s perfect because my husband, Larry, and I have Grand Lake right out our front door.”

Melissa Lane, accompanied by her daughter, Ashley Lane, and mother and father, Linda and Richard Troyer, had visited the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in July and bought a raffle ticket for the wooden paddle board. She said she can’t wait to try the paddle board out on the water and the rest of her family seemed equally eager to do the same. “It took us nearly six hours to drive from Sturgis today with a lot of construction along the way. I can’t wait to get back home and try the paddle board out on the water,” said Lane.

Chuck Wiesen, President of the Friends of TBNMS, was on hand to congratulate the winners of the raffle. He noted that the Friends annual wooden boat raffle is an important fundraiser for the sanctuary’s education programs and helps keep community boat building alive in the region.

“Over the past several years, the wooden boat raffles have helped raise approximately $50,000, benefiting many of the school children in northeast Michigan,” said Wiesen. “The sanctuary offers a lot of free programming to students and the community. The annual raffle is a fun way for supporters to give back and support future educational efforts,” said Wiesen.

“A portion of the proceeds from the raffle also goes to Heritage Coast Sailing and Rowing out of Tawas to help sustain its community boat building program. Community boat building holds a special place in the hearts of Michigan water craft enthusiasts and is an important part of our Great Lakes’ maritime history,” Wiesen added.

This year’s raffle started in May and concluded on October 8. The Friends raised nearly $6,000 with 1,200 tickets sold at $5.00 each or five for $20.