Ante up for Chilliwack Dry Grad

Casino night fundraiser planned at Coast Hotel to help support Chilliwack's largest, and safest, grad party

This year will be the 25th annual Dry Grad for Chilliwack high school students. From left

This year will be the 25th annual Dry Grad for Chilliwack high school students. From left

Get ready to ante up, roll the dice and double down for Chilliwack Dry Grad.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of dry grad celebrations, which bring together the graduates of all three high schools under one roof for just one night. This year, organizers are preparing to entertain up to 1,000 graduates from Chilliwack secondary, Sardis secondary and GW Graham. The party runs from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. at the Landing Sports Centre, on June 25.

It promises to be a fun but safe night for grads that includes some no-stakes gambling, prizes, music and even a mechanical bull.

And to celebrate making it to 25 years, the organizing committee is planning a massive, adult-only fundraiser.

The ‘Ante Up and Pay it Forward’ Dry Grad Fundraiser will be a night of Las Vegas style gambling, for ages 19 and up, held at the Coast Hotel on April 11. But just like at Chilliwack Dry Grad, there is no risk in bellying up to the table.

Parent organizer Eleanor Meldrum explains how it all works.

Included with every ticket, at both dry grad and the fundraiser, is $15,000 in play money. At dry grad, players get a chance to drop their winnings (tickets) into hourly bucket draws for major prizes. At the adult-oriented fundraiser, players will have a chance to win great prizes too, including a trip for two to Las Vegas from Roblin Travel.

Fundraising is crucial to the survival of dry grad celebrations, Meldrum said.

“Every year, we’re just getting by,” she said. Fundraising helps keep the ticket price for dry grad affordable for all students, at $35 a person, making the evening safer for everyone.

“If we didn’t have this, where would the 800-plus kid be that night?” she asked. “And what’s one life saved worth?”

The organizing committee is a passionate one; all of their kids have graduated years ago, yet they keep volunteering their time. The evening requires an army of about 140 volunteer adults. They’re dedicated to ensuring students have not only a safe alternative to drinking parties, but also a place to go to see friends they haven’t seen since elementary school, or even to meet new friends.

“It’s so much fun,” she said. Even the kids who say they’re just going to drop in for an hour usually end up staying the entire night, she added.

She’s thrilled to be organizing a fundraiser for adults that will closely mimic what the dry grad participants experience. It could give the community a better understanding of how dry grad works, and the importance behind it.

Tickets for Ante Up and Pay it Forward are $65, and that includes dinner and dancing, along with the play money for gambling and a chance to win prizes. There are only 175 tickets being sold, and are available at Chilliwack secondary school, the Coast Hotel and Squiala First Nation.

For more information on Chilliwack Dry Grad, volunteer needs or sponsorship opportunities, email rmeldrum@shaw.ca.