North Laurel family's contest entry pays off with minivan and toys

December 26, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Myth has it that on Christmas Day, gifts are supposed to appear from out of nowhere.

For the Wieman family of North Laurel, that's exactly how it happened yesterday -- in the form of a minivan full of toys that arrived shortly after 11 a.m.

Winning a contest sponsored by Toys 'R' Us made it as Christmasy as Christmas gets for Chris, 39, and Linda, 40.

"There is a Santa Claus, no doubt about it. This is great," said Wieman, a software engineer.

Through the store instead of Santa Claus, the gifts were delivered to Howard County in a 1998 Chevrolet Venture with Geoffrey the Giraffe plastered on its side. "This is what it's all about," said Wieman.

For Wieman's sons -- Jesse, 13, and Shane, 10, -- this was, well, cool.

The minivan contained a Sony Playstation. Cool. A couple of mountain bikes. Cool. A canister of popcorn, flavored with cinnamon, caramel and cheese. Cool.

Assembling an adult-sized robot that he received for Christmas, Jesse was not sure what to do with the gifts.

"We'll use them, I guess," he said. "I like the fact that we won all the stuff, but I don't know."

The Wieman family does get to pick out a color for the minivan -- the other big prize for being one of 10 winners in a contest that they entered during the last week of last month.

"I'm one of these nuts who enters these things," Wieman said. "My wife always says, 'What are you wasting your time for some of these things?' It's 32 cents, worth a shot, one never knows, so I put it in."

Mrs. Wieman said that she had Chris put the entry in the mail because she was having a difficult time moving around after a knee operation last month. She was afraid that he might forget.

"Not that he doesn't do what I say," said Mrs. Wieman, a graphic artist. "But he's a little forgetful at times, so I figured he'd just stick it in his pocket, come home and say, 'Oh, man.' But he obviously put it in the box."

Despite attempts by the sponsoring companies to make the morning delivery a surprise, the drama of Publisher's Clearinghouse was missing, save for Shane's shriek -- "We won, Grandma," -- as his grandparents arrived from Frederick.

This month, the Wiemans had been told that they needed to prove that they didn't work for the companies that made or sold the prizes.

Any last hint of surprise was ruined by a Washington television reporter who knocked on the front door a half-hour before the minivan arrived.

All that was left was for Chris to correct the toy representative on the pronunciation of their last name -- Wee-man, not Wy-man.

"I didn't even save the coupon for the contest, so I didn't even know what it was that we won," Mrs. Wieman said. "They just said that one of the stipulations was that we would be home at 11 o'clock. I guess they didn't want to see us in our pajamas."

Pub Date: 12/26/97

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