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Which family was selected in the lottery?

The Smith family gathered around the television, anxiously awaiting the results of the annual lottery drawing. This lottery determined which family in their small town would win a fully paid vacation for the entire household. The Smiths had entered the lottery every year for the past decade but had never been selected. This year felt different though – they had a good feeling about their chances.

As the local announcer appeared on screen holding the golden envelope containing the winning family’s name, the Smith children – Jamie age 12, Alex age 9 and baby Ellie – squeezed each other’s hands tightly. Mr. and Mrs. Smith clasped hands as well, smiling nervously. “The winning family of this year’s vacation lottery is…” the announcer proclaimed as he opened the envelope. The Smith family held their breath collectively. “The Jones family!” The Smiths sighed in disappointment as the camera panned to their neighbors who were cheering and jumping up and down excitedly.

“Oh well, maybe next year” Mrs. Smith said, trying to sound upbeat. The reality was that the Smith family needed a vacation desperately. Mr. Smith’s job as a factory worker and Mrs. Smith’s part-time job did not provide enough for them to take a vacation on their own. They were barely scraping by covering basic living expenses even with careful budgeting. A fully paid vacation would be a dream come true.

As the Smith family sullenly cleared the uneaten popcorn and chips from their lottery party, a knock came at the front door. Mr. Smith opened it to find their smiling neighbors, the Jones family, standing on their doorstep. “We want you to have the vacation!” Mr. Jones announced happily. The Smiths were shocked. “We know how hard you’ve been working and saving. You really deserve this.” Mrs. Jones said, giving Mrs. Smith a big hug.

The Smiths were overjoyed at the generosity of their neighbors. Arrangements were soon made to transfer the voucher and within a few weeks, the Smith family were packed up and ready to go. This vacation would provide lasting memories and a much needed break from daily stresses. Sometimes lottery luck comes in unexpected ways.

Background on the Smith Family

The Smith family consisted of father Michael, age 45, mother Elizabeth, age 42, daughter Jamie, age 12, son Alex, age 9 and baby daughter Ellie, age 1. They lived in a modest 2-bedroom house in the small rural town of Clearwater.

Michael worked at the local toy factory which was the major employer in town. He worked long hours on his feet as an assembly line worker. The pay was decent but without opportunity for much advancement. Most factory workers were just grateful to have steady jobs.

Elizabeth stayed home after having Ellie but before that she worked part-time doing administrative work for a local insurance company. She hoped to return to work once the kids were a bit older. In the meantime, staying home allowed her to manage the household budget and care for the children.

Jamie did well in school and loved to read. Her favorite subject was English. Alex did ok with his studies though he sometimes had trouble focusing. He loved sports, especially soccer. Baby Ellie was a bubbly delight to the family, always smiling and cheerful.

The Smiths worked hard but there was little room for extras in the family budget. A vacation was well out of reach financially. They had never taken a family vacation before. Mr. Smith received only 1 week of vacation time from the factory and that was used for household projects and errands. Even a few days away just wasn’t feasible without the lottery prize.

Background on the Jones Family

The Jones family who lived next door included father Mark, age 42, mother Julie, age 40 and high school aged twins Jack and Jill who were both 17.

Mark worked as an accountant for the town’s municipal government. The job was stable with a good salary and excellent benefits. Julie previously worked as a teacher at the local elementary school but quit after having the twins. She now had a thriving online crafts business that did surprisingly well.

With their comfortable dual income, the Jones were financially secure. They had already been discussing a vacation this year. Jamaica was their top choice but they were open to other destinations as well. When they won the lottery, the decision was easy to give the trip to the Smiths.

Mark and Michael were good friends who often chatted while doing yardwork on weekends. Their kids had grown up together, playing in sprinklers in summer and building snowmen in winter. For the Jones family, giving their prize away brought greater joy than claiming it for themselves.

How the Lottery Worked

The vacation lottery was an annual event in the town of Clearwater started by local businesses to give back to townspeople. It was open to all residents who had lived in Clearwater for at least 5 years. Interested families would submit an application with basic contact and family info. On June 1st each year, a winning family was randomly selected.

The prize was a voucher for a 1 week, all-expenses-paid vacation to a destination of the family’s choice. Airfare, hotel, car rental, food and entertainment up to $5,000 total were covered. It could be used anytime in the next 12 months. Local travel agencies donated their services to make all the bookings.

To enter the lottery, families had to meet a few eligibility requirements:
– Live in Clearwater for minimum 5 years
– Have at least 1 child under age 18 at home
– Submit application by May 1st

Winners were announced at the annual Founders Day town festival on June 1st. A large rotating drum was filled with all the submitted applications. The town mayor would spin the drum and choose one application at random – no weighting or other selection criteria. Just pure luck of the draw!

Lottery History & Past Winners

The vacation lottery had been running for 15 years in Clearwater. It was started in 2008 by a consortium of travel agencies and hotels seeking to promote tourism. It proved so popular that it became an annual tradition, even after the initial sponsors stopped funding it.

Here is a history of the lottery winners over the years:

Year Winning Family
2008 Robinson family
2009 Howard family
2010 Garcia family
2011 Davis family
2012 Rodriguez family
2013 Harris family
2014 Lewis family
2015 Anderson family
2016 Brooks family
2017 Scott family
2018 Wilson family
2019 Moore family
2020 Lottery cancelled due to Covid-19
2021 Hall family
2022 Jones family

As can be seen, the lottery has allowed a diverse range of families in Clearwater to take memorable vacations over the years. 2022 was the first year that the initial winning family decided to gift the prize to neighbors in an act of generosity.

Preparing for the Vacation

After the initial shock and excitement of winning the lottery prize wore off, the Smith family had to start planning out all the details of their vacation. Where should they go? When should they travel? What should they pack? With so many decisions, Mrs. Smith created a planning checklist to keep everything organized.

Choosing a Destination

The family gathered one weekend to research and discuss destination options. They wanted somewhere fun for the kids but also relaxing for the parents. Beaches and theme parks ranked high. After comparing costs, travel times and appeal factors, they decided on Disney World in Florida. The kids were thrilled!

Booking Flights & Accommodation

The local travel agency arranged discounted airfare and a hotel package at a Disney resort. Guide books and online reviews helped them choose Disney’s Wilderness Lodge which had spacious rooms, fun themeing and boat transportation to the parks.


Mrs. Smith and the kids spent a week sorting through clothes and supplies to pack. Double checking weather forecasts, they packed swimsuits, sunscreen and lightweight clothing along with comfy walking shoes. The kids chose a few favorite toys and books to bring. Camera equipment and extra batteries were essential to capture all the memories.

Saving Up Spending Money

Although the prize covered airfare, hotel and some food, the family needed extra for souvenirs and other expenses. They cut back on eating out and other extras to save up in the months leading up to the trip. The kids did extra chores to earn a bit more too.

Careful planning and preparation ensured that when the big day arrived, the Smith family set off on their dream vacation relaxeded and ready for fun.

Highlights from the Vacation

The Smith family returned from their Florida vacation with many amazing memories to cherish. Though it was hard to choose favorite moments, here are some of the highlights:

Magic Kingdom

No visit to Disney World would be complete without experiencing the iconic Magic Kingdom. The family entered through the flower covered tunnel and Main Street felt like stepping into a storybook. Riding down Splash Mountain, dancing with Goofy and seeing the nighttime fireworks over Cinderella’s castle were true magical highlights.


Epcot was educational and fun. Jamie loved the advanced technology exhibits while Alex enjoyed the thrills of Test Track. The family sampled cuisine from countries around the world and did the fun scavenger hunt in each pavilion. Watching fireworks surround the big golf ball sphere was an amazing end to the day.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios gave a behind the scenes look at show business. The kids got chosen from the audience to participate in an Indiana Jones stunt show. Riding Rock’n Rollercoaster was a rush and the Tower of Terror was delightfully spooky dropping 13 stories. Seeing Frozen and Beauty and the Beast shows were musical highlights.

Animal Kingdom

For the animal lovers in the family, Animal Kingdom was a delight. Riding the safari through jungles spotting lions, elephants, giraffes and more up close was incredible. The girls adored the Festival of the Lion King show. And dinosaur themed rides like Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl were a blast.

Water Parks & Pools

To relax and cool off, the family enjoyed the water parks. Jamie and Alex loved the thrilling slides and surfing the artificial waves. Baby Ellie splashed happily in the kiddie areas. Back at the hotel, floating in inner tubes along the creek and water slides were great fun.

Making these happy memories as a family was truly priceless. The Smiths were overjoyed and grateful for this once in a lifetime trip.

Back Home After the Vacation

Returning home after their grand vacation was bittersweet for the Smith family. While they missed waking up at a Disney resort, seeing beloved characters and having fairy tale magic at their fingertips, it was good to be home.

The vacation had given them all a renewed appreciation for simple family time together. No lines, schedules or crowds – just laughs over board games, reading bedtime stories and enjoying home cooked meals together. Yardwork, grocery shopping and laundry suddenly didn’t seem so bad either.

The family was motivated to find ways to carry that vacation spirit into daily life. Friday family movie nights were scheduled. Mr. Smith made sure to leave work earlier a few days a week to have dinner together. On Saturday mornings, they started a tradition of playing mini golf together. Small moments together became just as magical as the grand Disney memories.

Looking through hundreds of photos from the trip was almost like reliving it. The kids made a vacation scrapbook of tickets, maps and memories. Displayed on the fridge, it reminded the family to always be grateful for that extraordinary experience.

Though the vacation ended, the memories it created – and the lessons on cherishing time together – would continue enriching the Smith family for many years to come. They hoped someday to take another big trip together. But for now, finding magic in the everyday was enough.


The Smith family’s vacation saga represented much more than a theme park getaway. It illustrated generosity in their neighbors gifting them the prize. It revealed the power of shared experiences and time together to strengthen families. And it demonstrated the ability to infuse ordinary days with wonder.

In the end, a vacation is just temporary. But the love, laughter, memories and tighter family bonds that it fosters last forever. The Smiths were filled with immense gratitude for the life changing opportunity they were given. And their story would go on to inspire that same spirit of generosity, connection and joy in others.