Our Lady of Victory Basilica plans big fun, big music and big giveaways at its annual lawn fete.
This year marks the fifth annual Pennies to Heaven event for the Lackawanna landmark. The two-day picnic runs Saturday, Aug. 1 from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m., and includes live music from Flipside and the Kokomo Band, Chiavetta's chicken, and a bounce house for the kids.
The lawn fete began as a simple picnic, but in 2001, the parish hired a band and set up gambling tents and expanded the picnic to last an entire weekend.
"We're trying to grow it every year," said Denise Wood, chair of the event.
This year she added a caricaturist and a photo booth, which is fast becoming a popular attraction at carnivals and parties, will add to the fun.
The top raffle prize is a trip for two to New York City, including two train tickets, Broadway show tickets, a hotel stay and a little spending money, a $1,000 value in total. Other prizes include an Apple iPad Air 2, jewelry, a Darien Lake Family overnight, and a $250 Tops gift card.
There is also a Lottery Treasure Chest. Parishioners donate up to 500 scratch off lottery tickets, which are raffled off. At Sunday at 5:30 p.m., a name is picked and the winner takes home all the tickets.
A favorite game of chance is the Wine Shelf, which premiered last year.
"Our parishioners also donate bottles of wine, and you go to the table with $5 and whatever cork you draw, that's the bottle of wine you win," Wood said.
In all, 250 theme baskets for adults and kids will be raffled.
A long tradition of Our Lady of Victory is the Penny Drop, in which people offer their loose change to support church renovations and the OLV school. This inspired the "Pennies to Heaven" theme.
"Parishioners or any one can come with their jar of pennies and literally drop them on the sidewalk," said Wood. "It's a donation. We gather them up and deliver them to the bank. Little kids come and dump their piggy banks. It's really cute to see."
During her five years at OLV, Wood has seen attendance at the lawn fete grow considerably. The 1,300 chicken dinners provided by Chiavetta's usually get eaten within the first 90 minutes of the fete. The parish also cooks its own traditional hot dogs and burgers, sausages and pulled pork.
"It's a big undertaking. We have to have 250 volunteers, and our community comes through. Anyone who volunteers gets a T-shirt," Wood said. "You'd think it would be difficult (getting help), but my phone rings off the hook with volunteers."
Tickets are $10.75 for adults and $6.50 for children.
For tickets and additional information please call 716-828-9444.