The suspense didn't last long at the New River Auto Mall on Thursday, when 100 finalists gathered to try to win a new car.
Excitement was running high as the finalists and their families examined the five cars parked in the showroom of Hilton Head Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, trying to decide which they'd pick if they were the lucky winner. They took turns sitting in the 2011 Hyundai Accent, 2011 Nissan Versa, 2011 Mazda2, 2011 Volkswagen Jetta and the 2011 Dodge Caliber while kids played in a bounce house outside and many enjoyed hot dogs and watermelon. New River Auto Mall president Warner Peacock got the ball rolling with a short speech welcoming the finalists. He concluded with: "And remember, if you don't win the car, you can always buy one." DJ Mark Robertson of local radio station 98.7 The River held up a hat for the finalists to choose numbers. Then they came forward in groups of five to pick a CD from discs on a table. He reminded the crowd that even if they didn't win the car, each finalist would take home a prize - an Ipod, portable DVD player or a certificate for car detailing or an oil change. Ralph Wagner was in the first group of five people to place their CDs in the cars' stereos. "Congratulations - you have won a brand new car!" a recorded voice boomed. Wagner lives on Hilton Head Island and is owner of Shore Beach Services, which provides lifeguards, beach patrol and beach equipment rentals on Hilton Head. He filled out the registration form for the contest when his wife bought a new Nissan Murano at New River Auto Mall last month. At press time, he still was deciding which car he would choose as his prize.