Richard Vicente wins $1,000 in gift certificates in Express contest

SARAH SMELTZ/THE EXPRESS Richard Vicente, center, holds his “mini shadow” Roxy and the 10 gift certificates for $100 apiece he received Tuesday as the winner of The Express’ Great Holiday Giveaway Contest. With him are Express Advertising Department members, from left, Ben Green, Megan Muthler, Jordan McCloskey, Lisa Schropp and Faith Brickley.

LOCK HAVEN — Wherever Richard Vicente goes, he’s followed by Roxy, a tiny dog with a pretty big attitude.

Now Roxy can follow him through the doors of Calico Creek pet store where Vicente can use his $100 gift certificate to pamper her to his heart’s content.

And that’s just one-tenth of what he has won in The Express’ Great Holiday Giveaway Contest. Vicente now holds a total of $1,000 in gift certificates from participating local businesses.

The Express printed a Great Holiday Giveaway page every Thursday in November, including 10 entry forms, one for each participating business. Readers cut out and filled in the forms, dropping them off at the businesses in hopes of becoming the big winner.

When the contest concluded, The Express Advertising Department collected the entry boxes from each business and drew one finalist out of each box. From those 10 finalists, Vicente’s form was drawn to make him the lucky winner.

There were at least a thousand entries in all, said Advertising Department Manager Jordan McCloskey.

As soon as Vicente’s name was drawn Tuesday, he got a call to stop in at the community newspaper office at 9 W. Main St. and pick up something he had won.

He came right over — with Roxy in her Harley Davidson sweater wagging her tail high and following behind. When McCloskey told him everything he had won, he was very surprised.

“They said I won a gift certificate, but I didn’t expect this!” he said.

“This is crazy!” he said, kissing the envelope and laughing.

Vicente, a native of the Dominican Republic, lived in New Jersey from the age of 12 and moved to Lock Haven five years ago. His name may be familiar to readers, since he enters recipes in The Express Holiday Cookbook every year. For this year’s cookbook, he has submitted a holiday recipe from his homeland.

“I never win anything — I did win a gift card to Save A Lot from you guys a couple years ago, but I don’t play the lottery,” he said.

For the Great Holiday Giveaway, he faithfully submitted entry forms every week.

The 10 participating businesses that accepted entries and contributed the $100 gift certificates for the big prize are Lingle’s Neighborhood Market, Calico Creek, Murray Motors, Save A Lot, Kauffman’s Store, Unkel Joe’s Woodshed, Country Pride Restaurant, Mill Hall Pharmacy, Curves, and Millheim Small Engine and Hardware.

Vicente said he will use some of his winnings to make a nice Christmas for some of his family members, including his two daughters who live in this region. The father of four young adults — two daughters and two sons — he also has three grandchildren, ages 10, 7 and 1, and a long-time fiancee.

At home, though, it’s just him and his three-pound “mini shadow” Roxy.

The chihuahua-pomeranian mix can be coaxed into saying “I love you” but doesn’t always display this talent when she is surrounded by admirers, her owner said.

On her collar, she wears an itty-bitty “driver’s license” with her photo and all her contact information, and Vicente carries her regular size “driver’s license” in his wallet. He doesn’t mind telling the story of being stopped while driving and accidentally showing Roxy’s license instead of his own. Fortunately, the police officer had a sense of humor and let him go.

McCloskey shook the winner’s hand with a hearty “Congratulations and merry Christmas!” Everyone in the advertising department and members of other Express departments shook his hand as well.

“Thank you! I’ll be seeing you again!” Vicente said.

On his way out the door — with Roxy right behind, of course — he said that perhaps this would be a good day to buy a lottery ticket.