Hundreds of guests attending the 31st Elegant Auction to benefit the Oakhurst Community Park were transported to a “Midnight at the Oasis” as they entered the Tenaya Lodge ballroom last Saturday, on their way to raising $60,000 for the park which is supported solely through this fundraising event.
The night’s effort was $14,000 more than what was raised at last year’s event.
Among the 38 live auction offerings was a seven night stay in Kailua, Kona, Hawaii which brought $7,500 during the live auction - not just once but twice. After the first week’s stay at an ocean-front private home on the Kona Coast, complete with pool, spa and the use of a mini-van for traveling around the island was auctioned off, the donors, Rick and Teri Gambril, offered a second week’s stay which was also auctioned for $7,500.
A week’s stay on South Padre Island, Texas, donated by Greg Chappel, Jamison and Chappel Attorneys at Law was auctioned for $4,100. The home, just one block from the beach, accommodates 13 people.
A two-night stay at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel and two tickets to the 2016 Bracebridge dinner, donated by Aramark, was auctioned for $1,900. Aramark also donated a Chefs’ Holidays Package including a two-night stay at The Majestic and a five-course Chefs’ Holidays Gala Dinner, which went for $1,600.
“The Facebook plugs are definitely working,” said Ryan Madaus, who decided to attend the event this year after seeing various auction items and their donors featured on social media.
There were many first-time attendees at the gala event including friends Megan Howell and Joletta Graham, who came with Brittany Gilcrest and Kristin Orvin who attended for the first time last year.
“We all have small kids and we made this a girls’ night out,” Orvin said.
Maria Falany-Comstock and husband Hunter were also first-time guests.
“I take my three nieces and nephews to the community park at least every weekend,” Maria said, explaining why they decided to attend the fundraiser this year.
“After Saturday night’s Elegant Auction, the event has put itself back on the map as the premier fundraiser in the mountain area,” said Andrew Pence, Oakhurst Park Committee and Elegant Auction Committee chairman. “It was an amazing example of the relentless and never-ending support this community provides to the Oakhurst Community Park. I could not be more proud of the committee this year. We had a number of new people and new ideas that really gave the event a fresh and vibrant atmosphere.”
Pence explained that the biggest change was adding sponsorship opportunities.
“We were able to attract Sierra Telephone and Vulcan Materials as our top level sponsors, as well as Shawna Petrushkin with Ameriprise Financial and Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad. This added an additional $6,000 in revenue and it was in hand before the event even took place.
“Tenaya Lodge also went above and beyond for us this year,” Pence continued. “We were able to set the room up a day early, which gave the committee an opportunity to deck out the room to the nines. As chairman, I cannot thank the committee and our community enough for supporting this event, it is truly humbling.”
Splashes of orange and turquoise set the mood for the themed event, as did the surprise entertainment provided by belly dancers Bliss Hoagland and Sylvanna Celeste. Eddie Guzman provided music during the silent auction and dinner, and Wild Hare played for dancers following the live auction.