When the coronavirus pandemic ended plans for the traditional Crunch Time Party, a year end major fundraiser to help pay for materials and flowers on South Pasadena’s entry in the Rose Parade, organizers were forced to get creative, come up with a way not to lose the projected income.
The answer was to go virtual with it, putting on hold the usual dinner, silent and live auction at the War Memorial Building in town, and put a variation of the event in front of people electronically, with the aid of computer screens and mobile devices.
New and different, those responsible for making it happen, South Pasadena Tournament of Roses committee members, woke up Wednesday morning amazed at the acceptance from the community in supporting the city’s float that is scheduled to take part in the 2022 New Year’s Day parade since COVID-19 wiped out the 2021 spectacle in Pasadena.
What it means for the SPTOR committee is they’re already miles ahead in raising funds for their next float, which comes with an estimated price tag each year between $80,000 and $100,000 depending on its size and complexity. Labor to build and decorate it is performed by a small core group of volunteers, while dozens join in the effort down the stretch, applying thousands of flowers down the stretch leading up to the parade. Appropriately it’s called “crunch time” when everything comes together just hours prior to the parade’s start down Colorado Boulevard.
With support of social media and local newspapers, Brant Dunlap, who heads the committee, urged the public to go online at www.SPTOR.org and bid on a large number of auction items, from a gourmet dinner for eight, a private airplane ride for two, a Big Bear getaway, an overnight stay at a high-end hotel, to an elegant estate tour, dinners, gift baskets, entertainment and much more to raise dollars for the float’s construction.
And, instead of asking a roomful of bidders on one night to support the effort, the committee opened the doors to the world, connecting to the Internet, allowing participants to take part in a four-day auction starting December 26 and ending at 10 p.m. December 29, the time the usual live event would likely end in the past.
Not long after, a pleased Dunlap was rejoicing, sounding a little like a guy who had just discovered gold. He and his group are now onto something, and it may not have happened had the world not been struck with a deadly virus, putting a stoppage to any kind of normalcy around the globe.
“Holy cow, it worked!” the SPTOR chair wrote in a memo to committee member on Wednesday, hours after the auction concluded. “What an amazing finish it was last night. In our final few minutes and last seconds we saw a surge that exceeded $1,000 in a few bidding wars.”
A quick tabulation shows the Crunch Time Auction closed out at $26,389 as the committee looks to net around $25,500 after expenses. The live event over the years has raised between $20,000 to $30,000, so Dunlap was elated with the outcome.
“We did it – with your help by spreading the word,” he told the committee in his message, noting that 114 registered bidders, of which 64 were winners/donors, helped with the fundraising tally.
Joining the bidders were some making cash donations that are still coming in, adding to the $1,291 that was generated online over the four days.
Dunlap recognizes the virtual effort couldn’t have been pulled off without the behind the scenes work of dedicated volunteers Therese Molina, Laura Kieffer-Wright, Ellen Torres, Sara Cullinane, Sandy Fielding, Janet Benjamin, Michelle Dunlap, Alan Vlacich, Bill Cullinane and Sam Hernandez.
“They all helped make this happen and really brought this event to life,” he said. “The entire community is what made this auction a success. We had items gifted that were very creative in nature and others that came from thinking outside of the box. We were amazed by the support from local business and families especially in these tough economic times. Thank you to everyone who contributed this year and to those who couldn’t but would have.”
All is not completely lost come New Year’s Day. While the 2021 Rose Parade won’t take place, Tournament of Roses officials will host a reimagined celebration on New Year’s Day featuring live-to-tape musical and marching band performances, an historical look at past parades, celebrity appearances and more during a two-hour morning show. It will be aired from 8-10 a.m. on ABC, Hallmark, KTLA, NBC, RFT-TV and Univision.