By Fran Odyniec
For The Advocate
Suddenly, a hush descended upon Lovejoy’s Market IGA at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Plain City market.
Bill Weisgerber, of Westerville, steadied his shopping cart, and pointed it down the middle aisle of the store.
At the starter’s signal, he had 90 seconds to gather up as many items as he could handle in the third annual Shopping Spree held by Plain City American Legion Post 248.
“He’ll be getting a cart full of food for $5,” said Bernie Vance, official starter and time keeper, as well as first vice commander of the post. “He has to get back here at the starting line before 90 seconds is up. Otherwise he’ll be disqualified.”
The Shopping Spree is the post’s largest fund-raiser of the year. Tickets purchased before Plain City’s Christmas Under the Clock celebration went for $5 each. As it turns out, Weisgerber’s wife, Laura, actually had the winning ticket. Because she had to be at work on Wednesday morning, Bill gladly filled in for her.
Ground rules were simple: He could choose two of any item. The only exceptions were tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical products.
Given the go signal, Bill was down the middle aisle in a flash, turned left, and was in the meat department. Like an NFL running back breaking tackles, Bill displayed dexterity and balance as he first snatched two sizeable turkeys, tossed them into the cart, and pivoted for the long haul along the meat cases.
As store manager C. J. Lovejoy counted down the remaining 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and then was joined by a chorus of shoppers and store employees for the final 10, Bill made it to the finish line with four seconds to spare.
Cashier Manager Tina Sullivan handled scanning honors for a final tally of $395.20.
“That’s pretty good,” Lovejoy said of Weisgerber’s shopping prowess. “We love local support. This event is now part of the holiday tradition in Plain City.”
Weisgerber said that his game plan was “to hit the meat department. I got Christmas dinner and then some.”
In addition to the turkeys, he picked up a couple of hams, steaks, and two packages of bologna for his kids among other items piled high in his cart.
The Weisgerbers have four children: Mitch, 17; Kile, 13; Emma, 9; and Heather, 7 — not that they would only eat the bologna.
Proceeds from the annual Shopping Spree raffle help American Legion Post 248 support community programs that include the Buckeye Boys and Girls citizenship programs and the Union County Military Support Group.