PORTLAND – The Stars and Stripes Corvette Raffle had sold 649 tickets as of Wednesday night, and organizers said they hoped that a late surge of buyers would push the fundraising effort for July 4th closer to its goal of 1,000 tickets before tonight’s drawing.

Mayor Nicholas Mavodones will draw the winning ticket shortly after 5 p.m. at the office of the Maine Red Claws, 413 Congress St. The winner will receive the keys to a bright red 2010 Corvette whose retail value is about $65,000.

Money raised through the raffle will help pay for next year’s July 4th celebration on Portland’s Eastern Promenade.

“Where else can you have a 1-in-600 or even a 1-in-1,000 odds of winning anything, let alone a $65,000 convertible,” said Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings in a news release.

Quirk Chevrolet provided the sports car at its dealer invoice price of $60,552, which means the raffle has raised just under $4,500 for the celebration, said Jana Spaulding of the Maine Red Claws.

“We’ve sold fewer tickets than what were hoping for, but every dollar from the raffle will go toward next year’s (July) 4th celebration. It’s an important first step in our fundraising efforts,” Spaulding said.

Last summer’s celebration cost about $140,000 to stage. Private donations and corporate sponsors paid nearly all of the costs.

Because of budget cuts, the city no longer sponsors the fireworks display and related events, which have recently included performances by the Portland Symphony Orchestra and comedian Bob Marley.

When the city withdrew support for the event in early 2010, four founding sponsors took on the responsibility: The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Red Claws, Wright Express and Quirk Chevrolet.

“It’s a huge undertaking and one we hope to continue to expand and enhance each year,” Jennings said. “This raffle will help ensure that the Stars and Stripes Spectacular is even more spectacular in 2012.”

Spaulding said raffle tickets still can be purchased at $100 each by calling the Red Claws office at 210-6655 or at the office on Congress Street.