Annual tree auction raises $36,000 for Easter Seals

PARKERSBURG – The 27th annual Easter Seals Festival of Trees auction brought in $36,191 to help children in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The auction – held Tuesday evening at the Blennerhassett Hotel in downtown Parkersburg – was a standing-room-only affair.

An early head count during the live auction revealed 168 people in attendance at that moment. People came and went all evening through the side doors. More than 200 tickets were sold for the event.

The cost of the event will be deducted from the ticket price, and the remaining proceeds will add to the Easter Seals total for the evening, said Jess Puglisi, communications director for Easter Seals West Virginia.

“This is the largest turnout we have had in years,” said Blennerhassett general manager Cecil Childress. “The Easter Seals really doubled-down in their hunt for donors this year, and their efforts have taken the event to a whole new level.”

All proceeds from the auction went to Easter Seals West Virginia, and will stay in the Mid-Ohio Valley, said Puglisi.

“Every cent will go toward helping uninsured and underinsured children in Wood and Washington counties,” she said.

A total of 41 items were auctioned in the live part of the auction, including a mixture of wreaths, mantel pieces and Christmas trees of varying sizes which brought in $34,480 for Easter Seals this year, Puglisi said.

The silent auction part of the Easter Seals fundraiser began at 6 p.m., one hour before the live auction started. It featured 21 items varying from a vintage Santa to Hot Wheels packages and gift baskets stuffed with car care items and lottery tickets.

The star of the silent auction was a full-length mirror that had been carved by Tommy Mac, star of the show “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.” The mirror was the highest ticket item at the silent auction, but its winning bid, along with its new owner, remained anonymous.

The silent auction raised an additional $1,711 for the Easter Seals this year.

“This year’s auction more than met our expectations,” said Puglisi.

The live auction got underway with the volunteer services of Ed Williams and Mike Hill of Williams Auction Services from Marietta. For two hours, bursts of laughter interspaced the cries of the auctioneers while the 41 donated items were auctioned. There were 29 trees, 10 wreaths, and two mantel pieces in the auction.

Some trees were sponsored by individuals, while others were backed by local businesses. A total of 23 local businesses contributed in their own ways to the live auction of the Festival of Trees, organizers said.

The big seller of the night was the Handcrafted Christmas by Woodcraft tree. The tree featured more than 150 hand-carved wooden ornaments made by local volunteers, Woodcraft employees and celebrities from popular woodworking shows “The American Woodshop with Scott and Suzy Phillips” and “Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.”

In a bidding war that lasted several minutes and sometimes jumped by a thousand dollars at a time, the Woodcraft tree sold for $10,000. The winning bidder chose to remain anonymous.

“I don’t know who bought it, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” called Williams when the bidding had closed on the Woodcraft tree. “All the money is staying right here to help these kids. Without you folks, we couldn’t do any of this,” he said.

Throughout the evening, other trees raked in high bids including:

* The Vintage “St. Nick” Christmas tree selling for $4,500;

* The Just Believe tree selling for $2,100;

* The “Home” For The Holidays tree selling for $1,650.

The mantel piece fetching the biggest price was the “You Sleigh Me” piece for $200, while the best-selling wreath was the “OWL Be Home For Christmas” wreath for $725.

“My favorite tree was the Winnie the Pooh one,” said 9-year-old Sophia Watson. “All those Pooh Bears on the tree made me smile,” she said.

The Christmas with Winnie the Pooh tree, covered in dozens of Pooh bears and decorated in bright colors, sold for $1,300 during the auction.

“We had a very good turnout this year,” said Trace Ross, owner of the Blennerhassett Hotel. “We hope it will continue to grow so that we can do more for the community in future years,” he said.