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Pool squares for guns and other hunting-related items were also very busy during the West Fargo Hockey Association's Gun Raffle Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the Holiday Inn of Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service
Pool squares for guns and other hunting-related items were also very busy during the West Fargo Hockey Association's Gun Raffle Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the Holiday Inn of Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

No such thing as bad publicity for hockey association

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news Fargo, 58102

Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

The West Fargo Hockey Association made headlines in January when word of their fundraising gun raffle reached the national media.

The news came less than a month after the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

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The Hockey Association —with players as young as four years old — raffled off 200 guns on Saturday. Among those guns were a few designed for hunting coyotes that are similar to the weapon used in Newtown.

The event caught the eye of media outlets throughout the nation, including Sports Illustrated, MSNBC and the Huffington Post. Many stories were objective; many were not.

I doubt the Hockey Association cares what the media says, however, because the national criticism also brought with it an abundance of national support and plenty of earnings.

“I think (the negative responses) helped us more than anything,” event organizer Mike Prochnow said. “I’d say 95 percent of negative comments came from outside the area, and I think a lot of people came just to spite them.”

The event pulled in roughly $100,000 for the association, with tickets sold far outside the West Fargo area.

“We sold tickets all over the country,” Prochnow said. “We knew not everyone could show up, but we were expecting 800 to 1,000 people, and there were well over 1,000.”

On top of the 200 guns raffled, a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle was given as a grand prize, which went to Rick Clemenson of West Fargo. The association also held 50 games of chance with prizes like guns, hunting trips, hockey equipment, artwork and a wide variety of other items.

With the overwhelming success of the event, the association is now planning to make the gun raffle an annual event.

“We have established a new bar,” Prochnow said. “We earned $100,000, and that needs to be our goal every year now. It’s a lot easier to get a loan at the bank when you have $100,000 coming in each year.”

According to Prochnow, the success of the event, and the reason the event will be annual, is due to the overwhelming support within the West Fargo area.

“The local support was amazing,” Prochnow said. “We definitely made some mistakes this year, but we’ll get better every time.”

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