TRAVERSE CITY — Cindy Timmer isn't ready to give full credit to a random drawing for changing her life, but she will admit it started a "positive domino effect."
Four years ago, Timmer won a lifetime all-access pass to the Traverse City Film Festival. She's one of seven lifetime winners in film festival history. Each year a winner also receives an all-access pass to the following year's festival.
Timmer, who was living near Kalamazoo in 2008, stayed at her daughter's house with two childhood friends during that year's festival, all celebrating their 60th birthdays with movies, parties and Madonna, who was screening a movie at the State Theatre.
Since then, Timmer, an interior designer, has moved to Traverse City. Her son and his family moved to Traverse City. Her 98-year-old mother moved to Traverse City. Her husband, an attorney, moved his business to Traverse City.
And now, she's almost too busy to go to movies.
"I'll still volunteer, but it's limited," she said.
As is part of the deal when you live in Traverse City, she'll be inundated with house guests that week, including family coming from all over for a baby shower.
Meanwhile, Connie Barrow, of Traverse City, will be enjoying as much as possible, including her first opening night movie and party. She won an all-access pass to the 2012 festival at last year's fest and hopes to take in more than ever.
Barrow usually goes to movies with her friend Roseanne and, in previous years, the two took in nine to 12 films each festival, Barrow said. She figures her pass is saving her "probably a couple hundred" dollars, but she'll have to attend a lot of movies solo.
"Roseanne might wait in standby," Barrow said.
The passes are given away to Friends of the Traverse City Film Festival, a membership program that costs $60, $40 for ages 65 and older. By purchasing a Friends membership before or during this year's festival, you become eligible for the all-access pass drawing and you're able to buy tickets for the 2013 festival ahead of the general public.
Timmer had been a loyal film fest attendee in the years prior to her windfall — "I'd always stand in line and loved the whole thing; it was such a happening" — and she'd been coming to Traverse City regularly as well. "We always brought our kids up, vacationed. We always came here winter and summer."
Timmer was at a closing night party in 2008 with one of her fellow birthday celebrants when they announced the lifetime pass winner. "It blew my mind," she said.
It also made her rethink her priorities.
"I didn't want to grow old on the lake we lived on downstate," she said.