By Bill Hand
NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA – They entered the contest every day during its duration, but Bob and Carole Stokes still had a hard time believing they’d won a two-year lease on a new car.
“We got the email congratulating her,” Bob Stokes said. “We really didn’t believe it. We thought it was a put-on, and it took me a couple of days to convince her to call the lady. But it was real.”
GateHouse Media, which owns the Sun Journal, put on the contest through its BestRide.com program.
The national BestRide Great Car Giveaway ran April 6-27 and invited readers to enter online as often as they wished.
“We tried to enter every day,” Bob Stokes said. “If we missed a day, it was not intentionally.”
On April 28, the winner’s name was chosen, and the Stokeses were notified by email.
The Stokeses are a retired couple living in the Deerfield subdivision of New Bern. Bob grew up in the city, while Carole grew up in nearby Pitt County. The couple spent 32 years in Ohio before returning to their roots to retire.
Although they weren’t quite ready yet, the Stokeses were planning to replace their 10-plus-year-old car, and Carole had her eye on a Honda CR-V.
In winning the contest, Bob said, they were able to choose any car they wished, from any dealership, as long as the vehicle’s value did not exceed $28,000. They got their car from Pecheles Honda of New Bern. The car is, according to Carole, “the closest thing I can find to Carolina Blue.”
Considering the age of their other car, the Stokeses are having to get used to modern automotive technology: the car starts with a button, for instance, and has back-up cameras.
Of course, the car is not entirely free.
“Taxes, insurance, tags,” Bob said, “those things we have to provide.”
Asked how they like the drive, Carole laughed and said, “It drove nice from the dealership to home.”
In other words, they haven’t done a lot of driving with it yet.
“My daughter came the other day and said, ‘It’s still sitting pretty much where it was. If you don’t start driving it soon, I’m going to,’” she said.
Their new Honda may be getting short jaunts now, but the Stokeses plan to break it in properly with a drive to Florida this winter.