The endgame was in sight Tuesday as borough residents worked in shifts to propel Collingswood into a cash prize-winning spot in the Reader’s Digest sweepstakes.
A Monday night Stay-at-Home vote party leading up to the townwide Get Out the Vote party Tuesday. The infectious energy fueled a 56,000-vote day in which volunteers make up lots of ground on the field.
Residents like Kieth Monahan and Charlie Sarkioglu, both of who had voted in the Monday Stay-at-Home party, were on hand Tuesday to finish the job against 18th-place Richville, NY.
Cass Duffey, Collingswood director of community development, said that catching up to the impoverished, 300-resident, rural community had been difficult.
“They’ve been voting [in Richville] as fast as we have,” she said. “If we can keep pace with them, we need to close that gap tonight and keep voting.”
* * * * * * * * *
By 7 pm, the margin to 18th place had narrowed to 10,000 votes. At 7:30, it was fewer than 9,000; by 7:55, it had fallen to less than 6,000.
“We are the best town, of course we’ll win,” said Nicolas Schwam, 8, of Grant Avenue.
“We shoulda won last year too,” said Pat Ciervo of Main Street Realty.
“This is why I love Collingswood—things that bring people together,” said Katie Rosato of East Palmer Avenue. “It’s BYOB, that makes it fun, and it’s a lot of different generations [participating].”
Although not a resident, Linnie May of Glendora volunteers often in Collingswood, ushering at the and donating her time to things like the May Fair and Proud Neighbors. May has been participating in the “We Hear You America” contest since the first voting party at .
“I love community,” she said. “I don’t have community where I live, so I look for it elsewhere.”
* * * * * * * * *
By 9:45, Collingswood was looking down at Richville from a 4,000-vote cushion, and 16th-place Needles, CA, looked like raw meat. Another hour later and Collingswood was sitting solidly in 16th place.
Maley praised the citizens of the borough and Duffey in particular for their efforts.
“Collingswood has a long history of volunteers,” he said. “Everything we do is sustained by volunteers.”
Duffey echoed his sentiment.
“It’s really heartwarming the way people turn out to support town,” she said. “If all these great people voting go home with their computers, we can get ahead and stay ahead.”
Voters’ wishlists for what to do with the prize ranged from the personal (“get rid of those digital parking kiosks”) to the practical (“Knight House is getting old.”).
Realtor Joy Messner said she’d love to see Collingswood put the money into an art house cinema. Sarkioglu said he appreciates Collingswood’s green streak, and hoped that the cash prize could be used in keeping with environmental efforts.
Mayor James Maley said that the money should be used on something to commemorate the event and beautify the town, such as a public art project or tree-planting, “something that we just wouldn’t do” otherwise, he said.
The borough will sponsor another pair of Stay-at-Home vote parties Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m.-midnight. The last push will come Thursday, March 1, the final day of the sweepstakes. Join your fellow citizens and vote!