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By Long Hwa-shu Special to The News-Sun Jan 10, 2011 02:37AM
Kelly Ronan of Lake Villa smiles after winning a 2010 Nissan Versa.
The winner was announced Saturday at an extravaganza held at Rosen Nissan. Owner Saul Rosen donated the brand-new Nissan Versa in gratitude for the support he has received from the Gurnee community over the years.
“I’m thrilled. It’s so beautiful,” the Lake Villa womansaid of the 4-door white sedan with a charcoal interior.
“I’m going to sell my old 1999 Toyota Camry. It has got 250,000 miles on it,” said Ronan, who has worked at Backyard, near the Rosen dealership, for five months. She entered the contest online.
The dealership’s showroom was decked out festively for the occasion with balloons, prize drawings, free food and live music by the Frye Daddy band. An enthusiastic crowd filled the place.
Janet Hooven of Lindenhurst and Rodrigo Guzman of Bloomington, Ill., each won a $1,000 certificate for use at Gurnee Mills mall.
Mayor Kristina Kovarik was jubilant over the marketing campaign’s success and promised an encore. The campaign, launched in September, also was sponsored by Gurnee Park District, Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Gurnee Chamber of Commerce.
“We got some good, strong numbers,” Kovarik said, pointing to a 15 percent sales tax revenue increase for the village.
As a result, she said she foresaw no budgetary shortfall this year and no layoffs for the village’s 320 employees, including the police department.
Kovarik also disclosed that the closed Vista hotel near Gurnee Mills is under “massive remodeling.” It will reopen as a Holiday Inn under new owners later this year, she said.
Rosen, who owns eight car dealerships, including four in Lake County, said his sales were up 10 percent in 2010.
“With the economy improving, I expect sales to be up 15 percent this year,” he said, pointing to a pent-up demand for new cars because most of the cars on the road are more than 11 years old.
He said he donated the car “to repay what the community has done for me in the past 13 years.” “They have been good to me,” he added.
Among restaurants offering free food were Steven’s, Saluto’s, Mama K’s, Risotto’s and Potbelly Sandwich Works.
Michael Salazar of Gurnee, who came with his wife Jhoanna and their two sons, 7 and 5, called the event “exciting” and food offering “generous,” as he munched on a plate of chicken and salad.
“We won four passes to Rink Side,” he said of the ice rink operated by the Rink Side Sports & Family Entertainment Center at Gurnee Mills.
Margaret Prucher of Waukegan, downing a plate of goodies, praised the extravaganza as “phenomenal and well-organized.”
Kovarik called the car’s awarding “a phenomenal way to end the campaign” and added, “We’ll do it again next year.”