State lottery a sponsor of fireworks shows

The Illinois Lottery says it is helping to sponsor fireworks shows in five Illinois communities Thursday, including Champaign-Urbana.

But the lottery's support of the Champaign County Freedom Celebration is partial, says Ginny Schlorff, president of the organization's board.

"They are a sponsor. They are not sponsoring," said Schlorff. "They are no bigger than The News-Gazette or Busey Bank. They are a platinum sponsor. They have donated $5,000, which is a significant amount.

"But the fireworks, they're $40,000."

The Illinois Lottery is sponsoring the entire fireworks show at Chicago's Navy Pier, it said, and also helping to support shows in Batavia, Harvey and Rockford.

"It's like getting pennies from heaven," Schlorff said. "They contacted us totally out of the blue about three weeks ago. They signed up to be a platinum sponsor so to get another one was huge. We had to hurry up and build them a float, because in the contract for platinum sponsors we provide them with a float."

Corporate sponsors make up about half of the Freedom Celebration's $100,000 budget, she said.

"It's hard to get donations from individuals anymore so we really concentrate on the corporate sponsors," she said.

In reality, the state lottery's contribution will end up paying for next year's Freedom Celebration, Schlorff said.

"We raise our money a year in advance. We have to. So whatever we raise this year is for next year's show," she said.

The Illinois Lottery also is raffling off 500 authentic Chicago Blackhawks jerseys in its 4th of July Millionaire Raffle game. Tickets are $10 each,

The 4th of July Millionaire Raffle began on Memorial Day to award 1,776 prizes ranging from $1 million to $100 through four early bird drawings in June and the grand prize drawing on July 5. The addition of the Blackhawks jerseys brings the total number of winning raffle prizes to 2,276. All tickets sold since May 27th will be eligible for the added Blackhawks jerseys. The 4th of July Millionaire Raffle tickets will be on sale until 2 a.m. Friday or until they sell out.

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