Brant Dunlap described it in one word, talking about the outpouring of support from those in and outside the community who took part in the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ (SPTOR) Crunch Time Party virtual auction as 2020 crept to a close.
“Amazing,” exclaimed Dunlap, the SPTOR president, reflecting on the success of the event, which he said exceeded its goal of $30,000, raising more than $3,000 dollars over that figure.
The year-end live party, typically scheduled for December 29 at the War Memorial Building in town each year, had to be scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing organizers to come up with a new and unique way to help raise funds for South Pasadena’s float in the annual Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
With the cancellation of this year’s parade, Dunlap and others put the wheels in motion for an online auction, allowing individuals to participate from their couch. On computers, tablets and phones they were able to bid on dozens of items, including a gourmet dinner for eight, a private airplane ride for two, a Big Bear getaway, an overnight stay at a high-end hotel, an elegant estate tour, dinners, gift baskets, entertainment and much more.
To defray the cost of steel and flowers and other associated costs with building South Pasadena’s entry, ranging roughly from $80,000 to $100,000 each year, the SPTOR committee reached out to the community asking for support of its virtual event starting at 10 a.m. on December 26 and running through 10 p.m. December 29, the usual ending time of the live dinner and auction in the past.
“Truly incredible. Some committee members were happy with $10,000 for a goal, others $15,000,” said Dunlap. “To hit our goal of $30,000 and more was remarkable.”
The SPTOR president talked about how the site came together through the efforts of community members. “I’m on a Zoom call with Sam Hernandez, Bill Cullinane and Alan Vlacich solving the world’s problems, we tend to do this often on Fridays,” explained Dunlap. “Alan mentions a club, The Pasadena Casting Club that has been starting to do online auctions and he send us all the link. Then comes the Ronald McDonald House’s online gala the following week. So, as we solve the world’s problems a week or so later someone says, ‘Why can’t we do this? We should do it’ That would have been Alan. Some research followed, and Auctria became the future site for the replacement of the Crunch Time Party.”
Auctria provided the magic, allowing hundreds of bidders to participate in the successful SPTOR online auction.
“I loved this site,” said Dunlap. “It was simple and easy to use. With the help of Sara Cullinane, our web master, she put together a very clean and fun site that was easy to navigate for all. I have engaged with a handful of folks already about how this may impact the future of the Crunch Time Party. What I can say is that I personally can’t wait to fill a room full of people on December 29th 2021. I can also say that we will seriously be considering how this can assist us in the future including the possibility of using both an online auction and Crunch somehow together.”
SPTOR committee members were encouraged to get the word out about the virtual auction through social media, email and other means, including support from the local media, including the city’s two newspapers. Remarkably it all came together as big dollars were raised in anticipation to a parade about 12 months away.
“We had no idea what to expect,” said Dunlap. “We had a planned a series of announcements using our Facebook page, Community Facebook, the Chamber of Commerce and our local news outlets. It all came together to work.”
Participation in the auction came from near and far, including one person from North Dakota, who bid on one item and won. “I called to thank her and I asked what was the connection to SPTOR from North Dakota?” Dunlap asked. “She came to Southern California last December to fulfill a bucket list – put a flower on a float in Pasadena. She was turned down at one site, but was told to go to South Pas. Where is that she asked? Following directions on a piece of paper she found her way from Irwindale to the War Memorial Building only to be also be told we had no more room for volunteers. Turns out the older gentleman that informed her of this was older, with glasses, wearing a sweater vest, shorts and had a name tag that refereed to him as ‘Larry,’ who overheard her sigh about coming all the way from North Dakota only to be shut down. Larry said, ‘North Dakota, nobody has ever worked on our float from North Dakota. Come in here take a pin and put it on our map [showing where float volunteers reside].’ Then he patiently and meticulously explained the process of our float from A-Z in 10 minutes.”
In the next moment, she was working on the float “having a blast and even came back a second day,” recalled Dunlap. “Larry fulfilled someone’s dream by listening to them. We all need to listen more. This story is by far my best memory about what we do matters and how we do it matters more.”