Aliens, Jedi, crew from the USS Enterprise, Jawas, Tusken Raiders and even Lord Vader himself were in attendance at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley’s 51st annual auction — with costumed actors from the 501st Legion filling a lot of these roles.
The auction’s theme this year was space. Most in attendance played along with people like Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs dressing as an astronaut, Councilwoman Laurene Weste dressing as a member of the Men in Black, Bruce Fortine and Gloria Mercado-Fortine dressing as characters from Star Trek and long-time master of ceremonies Ed Masterson in detailed Jedi cosplay.
Matthew Nelson, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of SCV, said adults need to have fun, too.
“It’s about engaging the community, it’s about having a fun way for people to give back and pay it forward to the next generation,” said Nelson. “We always have a fun theme because we’re the Boys and Girls Club. It’s a fun time and it should be fun for adults. Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you can’t keep playing and having fun.”
Nelson added the auction was always successful, with a large part of the success being attributed to its themes. This year’s goal was $350,000, which Nelson said was met, almost on the dot.
“I think that’s why the … auction has been successful for so many years and people just keep coming back and look forward to finding out what the theme is each year,” said Nelson. “You want to dress up? That’s OK, have fun!”
Nelson said this year’s most popular live auction items were a one-week vacation to Cabo San Lucas, two signed Michael Jordan jerseys, a tour of Jay Leno’s garage and a rooftop party at Hart & Main.
But what really contributed to the event’s goal being met was the online auction — which was started during the pandemic. This year’s online auction lasted several days.
The most popular items for the online auction were lunches with elected officials. Nelson said every Santa Clarita City Council member offered lunch for the auction, as did county Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
The theme was set by the event’s two lead organizers, Dennis and Pamela Verner.
While the theme was just an idea in Dennis’ head, he said the event’s participants always take off with it.
“It’s so overwhelming to think of something, you know, in your living room and to see everybody dressing up and it takes a life of its own,” said Dennis. “We didn’t do all this. We came up with a theme and people grabbed onto that theme and took it to the next level.”
Pamela said before becoming a co-chair of the club, she didn’t realize how much of an impact it made on the community.
“You can help so many families in this community who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford after school care and (the Boys and Girls Club) provides a safe haven for those kids who otherwise would be latchkey kids,” said Pamela. “I didn’t know that. So, I think (the auction) is going to get people to really understand what the club does and the services that it offers.”