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Contest winners say Phantoms didn’t award prize

Published: Tue, November 2, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.


From top left, clockwise, Kyle Forward, Kevin Koncsol, Katelyn Lawrence and Maria Thompson dressed up as characters from the cartoon 'Scooby-Doo' for a costume contest Saturday at the Phantoms hockey game.

By Ashley Luthern



A recent Halloween promotion at a Youngstown Phantoms hockey game has some contestants crying trick rather than treat.

Maria Thompson, Katelyn Lawrence, Kevin Koncsol and Kyle Forward, all students at Niles McKinley High School, dressed as characters from the cartoon “Scooby-Doo” for the Phantoms hockey game Saturday night at the Covelli Centre. They entered the costume contest and won, getting the most applause from the crowd, but did not receive $2,000 in cash and prizes that was advertised.

A press release from the Phantoms stated, “Families of three or more that come dressed in their Halloween costumes can be entered to win a grand prize of more than $2,000 in cash and prizes!”

“When they were signing up, the girl at the table did say, ‘Are any of you over 18?’ and they said, ‘No,’” said Maria’s mother, Theresa Liguori-Thompson, who was not present at the time.

A fellow attendee who was older than 18 offered to sign up with them, which was given apparent approval by those handling registration, Liguori-Thompson said.

The problem was that the four are not related and there was no parent or guardian present, said William Weimer, vice president of BJ Alan Co. Bruce Zoldan owns that company, which includes Phantom fireworks, and he also owns the Phantoms hockey team.

“It was clearly advertised as the best family costume,” Weimer said.

An ad for the contest that appeared in Saturday’s Vindicator on Page B7 read: “Halloween costume Contest! Grand Prize! $2,000 in cash and prizes to the best- dressed family! Best family in costume contest, 3 or more people in a family.”

Weimer was unsure how the group was able to sign up if the rules prohibited them.

“Who knows?” he said. “They signed up. In the tumult of the pregame, lots of people are there, and they’re not questioned in detail.”

Each teen was offered a $250 gift certificate for Phantom fireworks, and an adult had to sign for the certificates because all four are under age 18, Weimer said.

Ohio law prohibits minors from purchasing fireworks and stipulates that those who do purchase consumer- fireworks products, such as firecrackers and bottle rockets, must sign an affidavit agreeing to transport them out of state within 48 hours of purchase if they are Ohio residents.

Liguori-Thompson said she did not feel comfortable signing for the prize once she arrived at the arena — and the teens asked that the prize be given to another contestant.

But that would have required the contest to be judged again, Weimer said.

“By that time, they would have had to start the contest over, and it was impractical. We’ll run another contest and give the prizes away,” he said.

Liguori-Thompson, a Realtor with Howard Hanna, sent a mass e-mail to friends and colleagues telling her daughter’s story.

“Here’s four great kids, not out drinking or causing havoc, and they’re getting [mistreated],” Liguori-Thompson said.

Weimer said he thought the e-mail was libelous.

“I am truly sorry this happened,” he said. “I wish it would have been approached a little differently.”


1sassy947(2 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

First of all, as someone that was at this game and in the audience, they clearly were not the winners by applause! The "family" that by far had the loudest applause was the "Cake Boss FAMILY" then after them was the "Hobo FAMILY" followed by the "Scooby GROUP"! The decision to pick the Scooby group of kids obviously was not chosen by the audience but by someone higher up! So even if they say they couldn't rejudge, there was no reason to rejudge because there was an obvious winner out there that followed the rules and should have won in the first place and none of this would even come into play.
From what I have been told, this is not the first time the Phantom organization has screwed people over and I am sure it will not be the last time either! Just look at how the attendance has been lacking!!

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2sassy947(2 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you, rules are rules, and these kids should not be winners in this contest. As you read the last names of these kids, you can clearly see, they are not a "family"; but why should the other families that followed the rules and participated within the guidelines be punished? You can not advertise that you are going to give away $2000. in cash and prizes and not award it to anybody! I am not complaining b/c they didn't get it, I am complaining that a deserving FAMILY didn't get it! One of the other four families should have received the prizes, even if they had to put the names into a hat!!

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3pindrop(21 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

The winner of the contest was evident by the applause... please, someone say that the contest was not recorded. And the administrator of this "contest" is obviously trying to weasel his/her way out of giving away the gift by choosing an invalid contestant as the winner and then stating "they were not eligible" because "they didn't follow the rules". Unbelievable!!! What the hell are those kids going to do with a bunch of cheap, Chinese, slave-labor fireworks anyways???

If he didn't want to give away $2000, then maybe he shouldn't have advertised it... Zoldan is a fricken moron. This was nothing more than an advertisement scam used to bring in more paying customers to watch hockey.

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4pindrop(21 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


Does the term "legal" really matter anymore when it comes to politicians and city officials earning bribes and kickbacks for shifty business -vs- local law???

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5JME(801 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the winners supported the repulican party, so Dave Betras told Zoldan to withdraw from awarding the prizes.

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6JME(801 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

sorry about the typo - republican

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7TeresaB(82 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I agree the kids shouldn't have received the prize, but they should have awarded it to the next group. Just because one groups violates the rules, doesn't nullify the contest.

As for fireworks, what a dumb thing to do.

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8ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

First rule of law: Don't Deal With Minors!!

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9formerphantom(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I too, was in attendance at the game. It was completely clear that the "Cake Boss" family won by applause - I found it curious that at the last minute they had the contestants "turn around" to face Mr. Zoldan's box. Ya don't think he threw the contest so he wouldn't have to award a prize, do ya?

It's a shame.......those people followed the rules and should have been (and still SHOULD BE) awarded the prize. It's a clear case of false advertising by the Phantoms if you ask me.

I'm glad to be done with that organization. Just being a part of the YOUTH program was a nightmare.

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10Chief_Justice_Spartacus(26 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Phantoms Fireworks & Hockey has lots in common with YSU. Senator Harry Meshel and Carol Weimer. These Board of Trustees members learned from the very BEST about LOOP HOLES. Right guys!

Maybe, just maybe it wasn’t presented properly, sounds familiar!

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11candystriper(575 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

who still buys fireworks?

that is about as popular as smoking...lol

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12goman71(104 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

why is this stupid contest turned into a political issue when they didnt follow the rules. TOUGH LUCK! there are rules in life for everything and if you dont understand them thats your fault not bruce zoldan. maybe tom humphries can hire them at his data systems company

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13goman71(104 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

you guys talk alot of smack about what the new old boys are going to do once they won in ohio and in the US.i hope they back all the talk that you've done for them, but i think deep down you know nothing will change. being in politics is like a gateway drug .once you get a taste ,you'll do anything to get more. even if that means lie, cheat ,steal, or make promises they wont keep. i just wonder who will you vote for when the "new guys" are too high with cushy political jobs ,paid for with our money., need to go to rehab. it amazes me that you guys think anything will change with portman kasich and the others that won.we're nothing but fleas on the back of one big partisan dog and they hope we stay split down the middle so they can keep us chasing a tail that we will never catch.and by the way , i dont really give two s**ts about fireworks! listen i've been laid off for four months and if these morons want to buy fireworks to celebrate america , if they lose a finger or an eye doing it , I DONT CARE! my priorities are food, mortgage ,utilities and the order of importance changes from month to month.the cafaros ,zoldan, humphries and the others dont make my life better or worse !

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14goman71(104 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

censoredship there may be new faces in ohio and across the us , but they are still the same wolves in sheeps clothing,i'll bet my life on it .what experiment will we try in four years when people figure out that they've been had again buy a politician.these"saviors" wont do anything to make it any better

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