61st Rotary Radio Auction begins

ALPENA – One of this year’s hottest items at the 61st Rotary Radio Auction Tuesday is a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge. From a vantage point 551 feet in the air, a lucky winner and a friend will get to see one of the region’s most spectacular views of Michigan’s Great Lakes. The good news is that an elevator ride part way up also is included.

Online bidding already has started at www.alpenarotaryauction.com, and ends between 5:15 p.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday as items are closed out. Phone bids also will be accepted Tuesday at 358-7372.

“It’s such a unique experience and it’s sold for over $1,000 in the past,” Steve Wilson, Rotary Club of Alpena president, said.

Another hot item is a Las Vegas package, which includes airfare and a three-night stay at the Renaissance Hotel. But the capper is the opportunity to drive exotic sports cars, such as a Ferrari or a Porsche, in nearby Red Rock Canyon, Wilson said.

Unlike most charity fundraisers, the auction has endured for decades, and these days involves The Alpena News, WATZ FM 99.3 and the Internet.

“Many fundraisers run their course over a short period of time, but this one has continued on and on with quite a bit of participation from the community to make it successful,” Wilson said.

Rotary auction organizer is Jackie Krawczak, executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers have been working since fall to line up items and link up the bidding process, he said.

“In the years I’ve been involved, the auction has brought in between $18,000 to $23,000 a year,” he said.

This year, businesses donated 250 items, with a retail value of over $30,000, he said. Last year, 300 were cataloged, generating $17,349.

Proceeds are spent locally, Wilson said.

“Our main project is signage and upgrades to the Bicentennial Path around Alpena to make it easier to navigate,” Wilson said.

Money also will go toward smaller projects such as blood drives, a book distribution to first graders and a children’s food program.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.