Making sure 7-7-07 was lucky in the Rim Country, Mazatzal Casino held its Lucky Duck Promotion Drawing July 7.
The casino gave away prizes of $1,500, $2,500 and $10,000. Taking top prize was Payson's own Myron "Dobbie" Dobson, with second prize going to Elvira Messer of Mesa.
Dobbie, who will be 79 on July 31, and his wife, Shirley, have been residents of Payson since 1990, but were frequent visitors before -- making regular trips to the mountains from their home in Chandler, where they lived for almost 40 years, Shirley said.
When Dobbie retired from Caterpillar in Mesa, the couple made the move here, first living in the Oak Trailer Park, and then buying a home on Easy Street. She continued to work for John Deere in Chandler for a couple of years before retiring.
Both have been very active in the community over the years. Dobbie has been a woodcutter for the Elks Lodge, both he and Shirley worked for a time at Payson Glo Lodge. They have also been frequent visitors to the Mazatzal Casino since it opened. One of their daughters, Renee, is employed there. She and their other daughter, Rhonda, were both present July 7 when Dobbie won his big prize.
"We haven't really decided what to do with the money," Shirley said -- adding she does most of Dobbie's talking for him now that he has trouble hearing. "We're taking a trip, riding on the Verde Valley Railroad, which is something he has always wanted to do. And we will probably be putting some of the money toward purchasing the lot next door. We have been buying it for a while, but now will put some more money into it.
"And we have three grandchildren."
In addition to having their two daughters present at the casino when Dobbie won the $10,000, the couple had friends visiting from Florida who were there, too, Shirley said.
The basis for the casino's Lucky Duck promotion was to provide everyone with an equal chance to win. Some promotions are geared for people who play more and therefore are able to get more tickets into a drawing. For this promotion, participants simply had to be at the casino July 7 and be playing a slot machine with their Player's Club card. Card numbers were drawn randomly. Everyone drawn was eligible to receive one rubber duck, as was each player on either side of the drawing winner, as long as they were also playing with their Player's Club card.
At 10 p.m., three ducks were randomly pulled from the "Duck Pond." The first duck was worth $1,500; the second was worth $2,500; and the third, grand prize, was worth $10,000.
As the drawing grew closer, many players were gathering around the "Duck Pond" in anticipation, said marketing director Carol McCauley. The first winner came to the pond rather quickly -- each winner only had five minutes to claim their prize or another duck would be drawn. The second came with the same speed.
"Oddly enough, the grand prize winner didn't come up right away," she said. "Everyone waited, knowing that a new name would be drawn if they didn't show. Then, all of a sudden, a woman's scream was heard. A voice yelled out, ‘That's my dad. He's in the restaurant.' She was instructed over the PA system to get him there right away because his five minutes was almost up," McCauley said. Dobson came up to pond with only seconds to spare.
"Mazatzal Casino plans to have more promotions like the Lucky Duck that will reward our local players to show you that we appreciate your support and want to thank you for it," McCauley said.