It all started as a simple Friday night. I was going to meet a co-worker at BenchWarmers, which is walking distance from my house, for a beer. Arriving around 5:30pm, I looked around for my friend and did not see him, so I took a seat at the bar. About 5 minutes later he arrived and bought me a beer. He was meeting an old buddy there as well, so he went to find him. His friend was sitting at a table with about 6 other people, so we were both invited to sit with them. Introductions were made, and then one of the waitstaff came over with entry forms for a chance to win a spot at the Bud Light Port Paradise III Cruise Party. Four spots were going to be drawn at 7pm, and you had to be present to win. It was then explained to us, that at the party, you would have a chance to win a spot on the Bud Light Paradise III Cruise to the Bahamas! Sure! Sign me up!
The evening went on and it was finally time for the drawing. This was the whole reason my co-workers friends were there, they wanted to win the cruise! One of the bartenders got up on the bar and drew an entry. She read off the number, instead of the person’s name, and the suspense began. It was not mine. She was hard to hear, so as she started to read the second entry, I moved closer. I heard every number except the last one… I said “Did you say 6?” She said “Yes.” OMG IT WAS ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And boy did the entire bar know it! I defiantly won the most exuberant winner award! Two more entries were drawn, then all four of us were told what the next steps were. Three guys and myself listened to the Bud Light rep and the BenchWarmers HQ rep give instruction. They were as follows:
- The following Thursday, go to the Aurora BenchWarmers
- 4pm-6pm BenchWarmers would feed us and give us drinks
- 6pm board the Party Bus & continue drinking
- 6:30pm arrive at Bud Light Port Paradise III Party in Denver
- After the party the bus would take us back to Aurora
This sounded great! They verified that the info on our entry form was correct, for we would receive an email in the next couple days confirming our party entrance. We were allowed to bring a guest, and the email would get their name on the list at the party. The Bud Light rep bought us all a round of , what else, Bud Light! Everyone was now my “best friend”, for they all wanted me to take them to the party. I hung out for a while after the drawing and celebrated before heading home.
My sister, Heidi, was my first choice, and got the first offer to attend the party with me. She and I were going to the Lady Gaga concert the night before the party, so she declined my invitation and said to take her best friend Mary instead. So Mary became the lucky “plus one” for me. I had a list of “waiting list” people in case Mary couldn’t go at the last minute, it was quite comical what people offered me to go to the party.
Mary was to be my designated driver. Thursday arrived and we headed South to the Aurora BenchWarmers. We were almost there when I got a call from my roommate Chris. He says “Dude, where are you?” I said “Almost at the Aurora BenchWarmers” Chris says “Well, don’t get your hopes up”. I said “OK”, thinking he meant about winning a cruise. Chris says “No dude, the Erie police are at BenchWarmers and they just arrested Kevin (the CEO) and shut down the bar”. “WTF?!” I exclaimed! So Chris and I talked a while and thought it was just a temporary shut-down and that the bar would be back open for the weekend. After getting off the phone with Chris I tried to call the Aurora BenchWarmers… no answer. When Mary and I arrived a the bar, it was closed with signs on the door. We found the woman (who’s name I cannot remember for the life of me) that was at the Erie BenchWarmers the night I won and had given us instruction to come to Aurora.
I got out of the car and asked her what was going on. She apologized and said they had tried to get a hold of all the winners to let them know to just go directly to the party in Denver, which I never received. It was confirmed that the 3 locations of BenchWarmers in Colorado were closed for business forever (Boulder Daily Camera story). The employees were loading their cars up with food saying, “We need to feed our families, we have not been paid in over a month.” I didn’t blame them and told them how sorry I was that they lost their jobs. It is just awful how one persons ignorance can ruin so many innocent people’s lives.
Over the weekend, the Erie BenchWarmers employees held a car wash to raise money for the unpaid employees. They would pay the kitchen staff and hostesses first (since they did not receive tips), then the remainder of the employees. The Monday after Kevin’s arrest, the state Seized BenchWarmers (Boulder Daily Camera story). The sad part is that Kevin had done this before! He had two restaurants in Erie that were shut down for the same reasons and served jail time from 1998 to 2003. The reason it took so long to catch him this time is due to the fact he had put everything in his daughter’s name. She too was arrested with Kevin.
This was a great local bar and was PACKED every night. It was just what Erie needed. Now everyone wants to pool money together and buy the building to re-open another sports bar. I know at least one person with an offer in on the place, but they have to wait out all of the court red-tape before they are accepted.
Ok, back to “The Party”. Mary and I drove to Denver and arrived a few minutes before they opened the doors. The attendance at this Bud Light Port Paradise III Cruise party, were all the Denver area winners and their “plus one”. Only the original party ticket winners were eligible to win the cruise, which was about 60-70 people. As we filed into the building, were carded, wrist bands were placed on our wrist, and each party ticket winner filled out another entry to be placed in the cruise drawing. Now we were free to PARTY! So of course it was all the Budweiser products you could drink, Bud Light being the number 1 choice.
We mingled among the other guests, ate the snacks, drank some beer, mingled, drank some beer… Met a lot of really fun people at this party. At one point I was kicking beach balls with all the guys, out into the crowd and up into the Bud Light umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. I knocked over someone’s beer, and said “Oh, I’m sorry, let me buy you another one…” went to the bar and got her a fresh one… free of charge of course. Had an absolute blast. Did the limbo & won a tee-shirt. One of the other Erie BenchWarmers winners ended up hanging out with us for most of the night. Fun was really had by all.
Finally they were ready to draw the winners of the cruise. They had 15 to give away, so our odds were pretty good. All 15 were pulled from the box, and then, like American Idol, “We will announce these winners after these messages…” UGH the anticipation!!!! After about 10 minutes they were ready to announce the names. Lined up on the stage were 15 Bud Light Girls & Guys, with blue/white leis and a lanyard with a laminated card attached “I’m On The Boat”. As a name was announced, it was also put up on a screen. Everyone cheered as each winner went up to the stage. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 ,7 ,8 and 9 had been given away… Little did I know number 10 was my new lucky number… and the next winner is… KRISTEN SCHULDT! OMG I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!! I ran up to the front and slid in on my knees with my arms in the air screaming YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I again, was the most exuberant winner of the night!!! After they put the lei and lanyard on me and snapped a photo, I went around and hugged EVERYONE!!! I didn’t even hear the rest of the winners announced! I’M ON THE BOAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The celebration just kept going and going! They brought all the winners to the back of the room and took a group photo, which I still have not seen. We all congratulated each other and couldn’t stop smiling! I called my sister and told her I won, but she didn’t believe me so I passed her onto Mary. I told her she was my first choice to join me on the cruise Dec 2-5th. OMG I still just could not believe I won! I’ve never been on a cruise or out of North America for that matter.
We all stayed at the event for quite a while, they started cleaning up around us. Since is was obvious they wanted to close up shop, we moved the party to LoDo’s in Downtown Denver. It was two for one – WOOT!!! As we sat, with other winners, basking in the after glow, I got a call from my sister. “Do you need me to come pick you and Mary up?” says Heidi. I said “Um, yes I think that would be a good idea”. So much for Mary being my designated driver… My wonderful little sister drove all the way to Denver to pick up our drunk butts, but I wouldn’t of changed a thing. We had the time of our lives for the evening and the cruise will be even better!
Heidi is unable to go on the cruise with me, for she is in school to become and teacher and will have finals during the cruise. Mary, will again, be my plus one and we are going to have a BLAST! I entered the code on the back of my lanyard online, a few days later I received and email that took me to the rest of the registration. Mary came over and we filled it out together and paid the $190/each in taxes for the trip, which includes the following:
- Round-trip airfare from Denver to either Miami or Port Canaveral (two boats all filled with Bud Light winners = 7,400 people)
- Transportation to/from airport to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
- Accommodations on the boat
- All meals on the boat & drinks at parties
- Transportation to private island for private Stone Temple Pilots concert
- Fun! Fun! Fun!
I have already applied for my passport and am ready to go. We should get our travel arrangements by November 15th and we will be set for our trip to the Bahamas December 2-5, 2010!!!!
BUD LIGHT, I THINK I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!