The gavel hits the block tonight at 7, when honorary auctioneer Rick Doucette of the Cape Ann YMCA kicks off the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce’s 25th annual live auction in the Essex Room at Woodman’s of Essex.
Participants should come early, says Doucette, for a preview of auction items at 5 p.m., followed by the silent auction starting at 5:30 p.m. Then, he added, “let the bidding wars begin!”
This is the second chamber auction for Doucette, who’s made something of a second career out of donating his auctioneering skills to various good causes on Cape Ann and the North Shore.
An unabashed ham and veteran of local theater productions since his days in the drama department at Gloucester High School, he’s banged the gavel for the North Shore Red Cross, Gloucester’s St. Ann’s School, Beverly School for the Deaf, and the Cape Ann Y, where he serves as executive director.
“My function,” says Doucette, of his star turn tonight, “is to ring every last cent out of everyone for a very good cause, and give them a very good time while I’m at it.”
In the past, Doucette has shared podiums with auctioneer extraordinaire Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, from whom, he says, “I stole some great material.” Starting bidding wars, he says, goes with the territory, and at last year’s chamber auction, thanks to “some amazing stuff, the bidding wars pretty much started themselves.”
“This year’s stuff is pretty incredible, too,” says Doucette. “There’re lots of things you’d wind up getting anyway, like heating fuel and garden supplies and then there’s stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily be getting — like an African photos safari or a luxury cruise.”
Altogether, more than 500 items are up for bid tonight. Most will be sold early in the evening by silent bid, with “the top 30 or so headliners” up for bidding when the auction goes live at 7 p..
The African Photo Safari —a big hit last year— will back again, along with a red Benelli scooter, Red Sox tickets, a one week stay in Puerto Rico, schooner sails, river cruises, luxury weekends in local inns, golf lessons, what amounts to a gallery of works donated by some of Cape Ann’s best artists, gift dining cards donated by some of Cape Ann’s best restaurants, catered cocktail parties, and a ride in a hot air balloon.
One of the annual highlights of the summer season, the Cape Ann Chamber Auction has grown steadily through its 25 years, thanks to the generosity of scores of sponsors and hundreds of donors, offering bidders an ever widening range of fun, unique, and useful goods and items.
The money raised helps the Chamber fulfill its mission to serve as the principal voice of business in Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester, said Chamber Senior Vice President Peter Webber, while also working to enhance both the economic environment and the quality of life for the citizens of Cape Ann.
A limited number of seats are still available, said the Chamber’s Tim Burton.
Tables of 10 are $250 each, while individual tickets are $25 per person in advance, or $30 at the door. For more information or reservations, email Tim Burton at: email@example.com or call him at 978-283-1601.
Joann Mackenzie can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3457, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Block Highlights of items up for bid tonight in the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Auction: Ken Knowles original painting. "The Motif - Late Afternoon," by John Terelak. Original painting by Paul George, "The Ardelle." South Africa Photo Safari. "Sails in the Cove," painting by Carole Loiacono. Penthouse Suite at Prince Resort in South Carolina. Hand-painted portrait, "Head & Shoulders" by Lauri Fielding. Seven-night stay in Puerto Rico. Watercolor of the Gloucester Paint Factory. Three-hour evening harbor cruise on the Privateer IV for 150 guests. Memento chandelier by Currey & Company. Three-credit course in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies at Salem State University. Hot-air balloon ride for four. Three-night stay at the Atlantis Oceanfront Inn. Bass Rocks Golf Club rental. Cape Ann fishing and or sightseeing adventure. A two-pound box of candy a month for one year. Four hours of fishing & tour of Gloucester Harbor. Two tickets for Patriots vs. Dolphins in Miami. Tickets for Red Sox vs. Orioles -- Sept. 22. Two-night stay at historic Emerson Inn By the Sea. 300 Gallons of home heating oil. Two tickets to Patriots Pre-season game. 12 cases of Samuel Adams Beer. Weekday Striped Bass Safari for six. Bowling birthday party for up to 15 kids. Family four pack for "Annie" and VIP parking. Golf for three at Bass Rocks. Editor for a Day at Gloucester Daily Times. For full list of auction items, visit capeannchamber.com