By Adrian Cavlan – What a joy it was to return to Holy Cross School and Parish here in Santa Cruz to be the Master Of Ceremonies, Silent Auction Spokesperson and DJ for the annual auction! I had done this event a few times in the past and always had a great time helping create a successful event, but due to recent economic conditions, Holy Cross had to scale back their production , including one year when an auction wasn’t even held. That’s the reality of what California has been going through. But, with most economic indicators pointing to better conditions, 2011 turned out the be the year of the Big Comeback for Holy Cross’ auction!

The theme was “Rockin’ In Morrocco”, with decor, food (excellent, by the way, from Barbara & Co.) and music representative of the theme. People started to arrive and were immediately greeted with a great atmosphere and… an open bar, complete with “celebrity bartenders” – the dads who are the school’s sports coaches! Auction producers, take note: an open bar at the beginning may be a good strategy if you are looking to get better bidding ; )

As people were enjoying passed hors d’oeuvres and their adult beverages, the silent auction proceeded. This is where a little of the ham in me helped bring home the bacon for this auction! In these events, I tour the room with a wireless mic and give live updates from the tables, highlighting items that I think are special, getting a lot of bids, not getting enough bids or perhaps flying under the radar completely. The effect was immediately evident as people seemed to gravitate to where I was and look over the items again.

But it got even better. As the Silent Auction began to get down to crunch time, I had some fun with the audience. First, I identified some bidders who seemed to be especially interested in a given item (in some cases even hovering over the bid sheet to keep their eye on their prize!) and I went up to them and did a brief interview on the mic… and it was classic! Gauntlets were thrown down, challenging and defying people to come make a higher bid than they were willing to! People loved it, and lo and behold the bids did come. Luckily for all of us, the issuer of the challenges won both of her items… whew!

The best part of the silent auction came as we were closing the second to last table. One of the items was a Dungeness Crab feed for 10 people, with all the accompaniments, from a well-known family in the community. In the last minute of this auction, the action came down to two men who kept bidding it up. Eventually, in that last minute alone, that crab feed DOUBLED in value and the thrilled crowd gathered around as if we were at a boxing match as I announced it blow-by-blow. It was awesome. And when it was over, a large cheer erupted! THAT’S how you make a silent auction entertaining, huh?

After dinner, though, it was time to bring in our professional live auctioneer, another person who they brought back this year after a short absence. Her name is Carla Harrison, she’s out of Oklahoma and she is a-w-e-s-o-m-e! I think my second-favorite part of the night was introducing her, a “show-biz”-style introduction complete with an energetic, jazzy fanfare. She then came on and gave a clininc on how to have a fun auction that is highly successful. The fact is that Carla came in to Holy Cross the first time a few years back and personally in creased the auction’s proceeds by 25%! She is whip-smart and able to carry on her auctioneer’s patter while interjecting fun observations, illustrations of value and some funny comments that get the whole crowd laughing. Really a pleasure watching her work.

After the live auction ends, typically lots of people leave. But at Holy Cross? Time for a bangin’ dance party! A little bit of ’60s, ’70’s and ’80s along with a nice dose of today’s Top 40 “crossover” hits added up to a packed dance floor all the way until the last song!

All in all, another super-fun night night at Holy Cross : )