Surely you know, or at least have heard of, the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; the brilliant children’s novel written in 1964 by British author Roald Dahl, and later turned – twice – into Hollywood films.
If not, the abridged version of the story circles around a man named Willie Wonka, eccentric owner of a chocolate factory. He offers a tour of his legendary factory to five lucky winners of a golden ticket placed inside one of his famous WONKA chocolate bars around the globe.
All five tickets are found, the first four by incredibly nasty kids with equally nasty parents. The last is found by a sweet boy named Charlie Bucket, who ends up winning the chocolate factory.
The first golden ticket is found by a boy named Augustus Gloop. At the factory tour, Gloop falls into a river of chocolate and is sucked up through a pipe, the first of four hilariously delicious fates befallen upon the four kids who give into their candy impulses.
No such fate awaits Vernon’s Mike Manka.
The Vernon Nissan finance manager found the first of five golden tickets inside Valley Vonka bars, a promotion of The Morning Star and a fundraiser for Jumpstart, Canadian Tire’s charity that helps children overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation.
As a result, Manka, 41, will win one of five major prizes in the inaugural Vernon Morning Star Valley Vonka and the Hot Chocolates Factory Contest, the proceeds of which go to Jumpstart.
“Our marketing guy brought in the bars so I bought a bunch to give to our sales guys on the floor to get their energy going,” said Manka. “I started peeking into the bars and saw the golden ticket.”
Vernon Nissan is one of five participating sponsors which has the delicious bars for sale by donation (minimum $5). The others are The Morning Star, Printech, Butcher Boys and Canadian Tire. All you have to do, like Manka, is buy a bar for a chance to find one of the four golden tickets left.
Find a golden ticket, and you will win one of five prizes:
1. An outdoor patio set from Canadian Tire (value of $1,300);
2. Gift cards from Tim Hortons worth $1,200;
3. One year family pass to any recreation center from the City of Vernon (value of $1,500);
4. Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club golf passes (value of $1,500);
5. Vernon Towne Theatre movie package (value of $1,500).
The Towne Theatre’s prize package will include a framed movie poster (value of $200), Towne Theatre membership, which gets you reduced prices for any show (value of $50), 12 Night at the Towne vouchers which consist of two admissions, one large popcorn, two medium drinks and a large candy (value of $35). There will also be restaurant vouchers worth $800, to a large choice of local spots.
If you are lucky enough to win a golden ticket, you won’t know which prize you won. You will be invited to an event held at the Towne Theatre later in May, where the prizes will be revealed.
Manka, who started with Vernon Nissan the first week of January 2023, would revel in the family pass to the rec centre.
“My family is currently in Alberta, mainly in Cochrane, and they won’t arrive in Vernon until the end of May,” he said. “They’re all great prizes but I have a young family. I have two sons (Daniel, 11, Oliver, eight) and I coach them in sports, and we do many things as a family like mountain bike and ski.”
For Vernon Nissan, participating in the promotion was a no-brainer said Cory Dieno, managing partner, whose team took over Vernon Nissan on Dec. 1, 2022.
“It’s about giving back to the community. That’s what we’re about – community, community, community,” said Dieno, who actually works at the table the Valley Vonka bars sit upon inside the dealership. His willpower is amazing, though he pledges to buy all bars not sold.
“Reaction has been great to this, along with our ad in the Ads By Kidz supplement we did.”
Having the first golden ticket found at his dealership, said Dieno, is “amazing.”
“It’s good for the business and good for the community,” he said. “It gets the word out to our customers and to local businesses to come in and make a donation to a worthy charity.”
Only 2,500 bars were created for the promotion/fundraiser. The contest is slated to run until May 12 or until the bars are sold out.
Valley Vonka bars are pure milk chocolate (made in a nut-free environment) made locally by Barrita Durward of Cotton’s Chocolates on 30th Avenue.
The chocolate used is a delectable sweet Belgian blend that will have your taste buds clamouring for more.
Special thanks to The Morning Star’s partners, Cotton’s Chocolates, Printech Corp, Vernon Public Art Gallery, and the golden ticket prize partners; Canadian Tire, City of Vernon, Tim Hortons, Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club and the Vernon Towne Theatre.