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Highland Man Wins Gift Basket With Items Valued at More Than $1,000 in Holiday Contest

Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce event likely to return next year, its main organizer says.

A 79-year-old General Motors retiree from Highland was the big winner Monday of a gift package valued at more than $1,000 in the Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce's .

Richard Chamness' name was pulled from one of 12 who successfully visited the nearly 30 area businesses and organizations that participated in the contest ranging from to the itself.

"It kind of surprised me," said Chamness, who added this is the first time he's ever won a contest like this and has yet to peruse the items that include gift cards, holiday movie DVDs and a teeth-whitening program.

Barbara Walker, the chamber's past president who took the lead on the contest, said members have been receiving plenty of positive feedback from participants, even ones who were unsuccessful and said they enjoyed visited the locations.

"Everyone thought it was great," she said. "I think it will become an annual event. … Lots of people did part of it but had fun even though they didn't finish."

Chamness said he decided to participate after happening upon the contest at , where he said he was at with a family friend who's his "unofficial" adopted daughter. With a friend who drove him around, it took two days to visit all the locations with trees.

Some businesses used its tree to feature other events, such as Kahuna Coffee — which hosted . Many others offered participants extra goodies and more information about their business or organizations.

Hartland Patch, which also participated, has been featuring pictures of many trees as part of its Hartland Holiday Tree Parade.

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