Lucky shoppers take home thousands at Snowflake Raffle

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By Christine O'Connor

BRISTOL—Riley Gagner's little fingers gripped his blue ticket tightly as the wind whipped around him.

"And the numbers are 4…3…5," Chris Lowis shouted from the stage.

And with that, 4-year-old Riley let out an exasperated sigh. His ticket started with the number "5."

"Oh man!"

The crowd echoed Riley's disappointment. Neither he nor they won the $3,000 grand prize awarded during the Bristol Snowflake Raffle Sunday night.

The jackpot went to Freddie Costa of Barrington.

About 1,500 people crowded the lower portion of State Street Dec. 22, waiting with anticipation to hear their ticket number called, the recipient of one of six cash prizes.

The Bristol Warren Education Foundation won the charitable raffle of $500, and Bristol residents Gigi Deleo and Amy Mastriano, and Joe Camera also won $500.

Nancy Watson of Westport, and Chris Menton of Bristol each took home $1,000.

"This year's turnout was great," said Kathleen Seguin, chairperson of the Bristol Merchants Association, which hosts the event. "We had a lot of participation this year, about 40,000 tickets were given out."

Patrons who spent more than $25 at participating Bristol stores between Nov. 22 - Dec. 22 were given a blue ticket for a chance at winning during the Snowflake Raffle. This is the fifth year the event has taken place. The cash prizes were donated from the event's sponsors.

Mr. Costa earned his winning ticket when he bought himself a watch at Coggeshall Jewelers on Hope Street.

"I think I'm going to put it away and spend some after Christmas," he said of his $3,000-jackpot. "It's just me, so I won't have to share it."

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.