By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer
This Saturday marks the third annual Topless Jeep Poker/Bead Rally of the Portales and Clovis area. One of its main goals is to raise money for the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.
Hosted by the Rat Pack, a local club of Jeep Wrangler owners, the rally will last 4 1/2 hours and span a route throughout Portales and Clovis.
The itinerary is simple. It begins with the owners “taking their tops off” their Jeeps and congregating in the Portales C&S Oil parking lot at 8:30 a.m. There they’ll register, take photos and prepare for the long trek. At 9 a.m. the drivers leisurely take off to one of the 15 stops in Portales and Clovis where they pick up an item. At seven of the stops, they choose a single playing card; at the other eight they receive a bead.
From the seven playing cards each driver receives, the players with the best poker hands win. It isn’t a race, so no awards are given for the fastest times.
Cash prizes are given to the winners, with all participants receiving free giveaways. Prizes also are given to winners of the many side games. The eight beads collected are made into a Mardi Gras-style necklace for the ladies in the Jeep.
“We want to create enthusiasm with Jeep owners in the area,” said Max Pino, a retired teacher, cell phone salesman at Yucca Telecom and one of the Rat Pack founders. Along with Scott Parker, a Portales High teacher and coach, the two men have helped lead the club to grow to 40 members.
“The Rat Pack does everything from parades to tailgates to community services,” Parker said. “This is just something else we can go out and do with the club, but the major goal is raising money to donate to the food bank.”
They chose the food bank as another community service endeavor for the club.
Sponsors have donated money, prizes and gifts for the event. There now are more than 60 giveaways.
The event includes post-rally festivities at the Portales City Park.
“The easiest and funnest part to the event is getting in your Jeep and just cruisin’,” Parker said.