The 250 people attending the 17th Annual Christmas Tree Auction knew they were in for a magical night as soon as they entered the elegantly decorated Lakeview Room at The Pines Resort Dec. 1.
Attendees were instantly impressed with the 16 beautifully decorated trees, table-top trees and wreaths, and 75 silent auction and raffle prizes displayed around the 31 white linen-draped dinner tables.
The holiday spirit was in full swing as community members generously bought raffle tickets, bid on silent auction items and trees for a fundraising record of $48,000.
The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst with 20% of the money raised, with the other 80% going to the non-profit organization that had a tree or wreath in the live auction.
Professional auctioneer Tim Sisil expertly worked the crowd to get as much as possible for each live auction tree or wreath. He didn’t have to work that hard, as members of the crowd were eager to bid often and bid high, more than doubling the amount of money raised at last year’s event.
The trees were spectacular and most came with additional goods and services to make them even more desirable.
Trains, vacations and a Willie Mays autographed baseball
The seven stunning full-size Christmas trees up for auction came from the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst, Mountain Bear Fan Club, Sierra Sunrise Rotary, Yosemite Badger Youth Wrestling, Wawona Charter School, Coarsegold MOPS (Mother’s of Pre-Schoolers), Sierra Pines Adventure Group and the Oakhurst Community Park Committee.
☆The Yosemite Wawona Charter School, with about 27 students, lost one of its major fundraisers this past year - a golf tournament at Wawona that was canceled due to the Railroad Fire. School staff and students had high hopes for its 10-foot tree that featured hand-made and hand-painted ornaments.
The tree came with $4,800 in merchandise including hotel stays, two season passes to Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area, and Yosemite gift cards for restaurants, retail and recreational activities in the park, all donated by Aramark. Don and Kristi DeBernardi received the tree and additional merchandise with the high bid of $4,100. “This was a great event,” Don said. “We had a fun time and we were happy to support education in the Mountain Area.”
☆The Badger Youth Cheer wreath came with some autographed sports memorabilia including Willie Mays and Nolan Ryan baseballs, and Terrell Owens and Derek Carr mini football helmets.
☆The Yosemite Badger Youth Wrestling tree featured 50 hand-blown glass icicles from Third Wind Studio, and came with 40 additional gifts including a $3,000 chainsaw carving, a cord of firewood, $50 Christmas centerpiece from Coarsegold Flower Shop, and a number of beauty products, haircuts, two spray tans and facial from Mint Condition Salon.
☆Designed by Alexandra Depastene, the Sierra Pines Church Adventure Rec ‘Polar Express - Believe’ tree featured three authentic Lionel trains circling the tree on three levels on custom made trestles.
☆The Sierra Sunrise Rotary Club donated a 6-foot fresh Noble Fir tree that featured 1,500 tiny white lights with golden sprigs, balls and garland. Additional treasures to be found in the tree included two annual passes to the Golden Chain Theatre, a $50 gift card, a golden Christmas pin, a bottle of golden wine and gold jewelry.
The Innovation Award went to Sierra Pines Church Adventure Rec - the Craftsmanship Award was won by the Oakhurst Woodcarvers - and the Charity Spirit Award was taken home by the Mountain Bear Fan Club. First place in the People’s Choice Awards went to Sierra Pines Church - second place Coarsegold MOPS - and third Yosemite Wawona Charter School.
This year’s event was organized by the B&G Club board of directors: President Bob Macaulay, Jerry Lebovitz, Jessica Trettin, Shawna Petrushkin, Melanie Barker, Eric Wood and club Director Jennifer Simmons.
“The staff of Boys & Girls Club is extremely grateful for all the hard work the Tree Auction Committee has put in over the last year to host this wonderful event that helps support our local community’s nonprofits,” said Boys & Girls Club Director Jennifer Simmons. “Without their continued dedication to our club, we would not be able to support our 340 area youth who utilize the Boys & Girls Club throughout the year.”
“We heard many, many compliments about the set-up, and the wow factor walking in the door,” Barker said. “I heard comments that it was over-the-top, the best event of the year, and we love the sit down dinner format. There are so many people to thank, most importantly our community that gives so much, and participates at such a high level. The impact of their contributions is far greater than they may ever know.”
“This year’s tree auction committee has truly raised the bar for all community events to follow,” Macaulay added.
Oakhurst tree lighting
A large crowd attended the Dec. 2 Oakhurst Community Christmas Tree Lighting on the north-east corner of Highway 41 and Crane Valley Road (426). Prior to the official lighting of the tree and the arrival of Santa, children had the opportunity to make glitter pine cone tree ornaments, have their faces painted, make marshmallow snowmen and play in a bounce house.
Music was provided by the Yosemite High School Chamber Singers and free hot dogs were provided by Century 21. Dane Baldwin, owner of D&D County Fair Cinnamon Rolls, gave away rolls with all donations going to PJ Kuzmitski, the YHS JV football player who had his right knee amputated below the knee following a catastrophic injury on the practice field this past season.
Follow the lighting of the 60-foot fir tree, Santa arrived, courtesy of Oakhurst Fire Station 12, to the delight of many anxiously awaiting children. The event was sponsored by Sierra Tel and hosted by Century 21.
Breakfast with Santa
Nearly 700 children and adults attended Breakfast with Santa last Saturday at the Oakhurst Community Center. The annual event is sponsored by the Sierra-Oakhurst Kiwanis Club, who prepared the pancake breakfast, complete with ham, sausage, scrambled eggs, orange juice and coffee. Mountain Bear Fan Club donated 400 stuffed animals for the children to select from, and the Yosemite High School Interact Club assisted the little ones with Holiday crafts. The event benefits the Children’s Museum of the Sierra.
Toys for Tots Round Up
This year’s Marine Toys for Tots drive got a boost Dec. 2 during the annual Toy Round Up in the parking lot of the Old Mill Village Shopping Center, with a second toy collection event held simultaneously at the Coarsegold Historic Village.
At the two events, 382 new, unwrapped toys and $1,700 in cash and checks was collected, about 45 toys and $1,500 below last year.
“We had a great turnout of volunteers from the community and vehicles from Road Rattlers Car Club, sheriff’s department, Search & Rescue, CHP, Cal Fire with trucks from Oakhurst and Ahwahnee,” said Toys for Tots Coordinator Dennis Osantowski.
Members of the Marine Corps League Griswold Detatchment 1121 will sort the toys by gender and age, and deliver to children in need in the Mountain Area next week. Names of the children and early teens came from school staff members and churches.
Details: Dennis Osantowski, (970) 209-2099.
Christmas at Fresno Flats
The Sierra Historic Sites Association hosted its annual old-fashioned Christmas at Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park on Dec. 2.
The historic buildings at Fresno Flats, located on School Road, were decorated for the holiday season with period decorations and native mountain greenery.
Children were greeted by Father and Mother Christmas (Wayne and Barbara Boring), long-time music teacher / pianist Jackie Byers led Christmas carols, while Fresno Flats docents provided tours of the park’s nineteenth-century buildings.