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Gala rocks for Habitat

April 01, 2007|By TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN-They rocked around the clock Saturday night at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, getting lost in the '50s with dinner, an auction and some vintage rock 'n' roll.

For the nearly 570 people who bought tickets to go "Rock 'n' Thru the '50s with Habitat," the goal was to help families who couldn't own their own homes without aid from Habitat for Humanity of Washington County.

Habitat officials hoped to raise $60,000 at this year's dinner and auction, the organization's 14th annual event.

That might seem like an ambitious goal considering that just eight years ago, the auction drew only 126 people and raised $7,200. But Executive Director Sherry Brown Cooper reported that this year's event sold out before the ticket deadline - the fourth year in a row for such a response.

"It's a fun event. We keep the dress at business casual," said Brown Cooper, who was sporting a poodle skirt, saddle oxfords, bobby socks, rhinestone-encrusted sunglasses and a lot o' pink.

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The event featured 210 silent auction items, and 24 more to be auctioned live, including a 1980 Cadillac Seville, a jukebox loaded with 100 compact discs and the catalog star - a specially crafted, autographed Paul Reed Smith guitar. Though the Mark Trevanti SE model guitars usually are painted black or platinum, this one was seafoam green - to match the 1957 Chevrolet - especially for the Habitat auction.

The guitar caught the eye of 12-year-old Sarah Ganassa of Hagerstown, who was wearing her own poodle skirt with pink sequins.

"But it's too much," she said.

Her friend Nikki Anselmo, also 12, had slightly more modest ambitions.

"I saw this little wooden carousel horse," she said.

Alexandra Catone, also 12 and from Hagerstown, still was looking.

There was plenty to look at - everything from tickets to "Spamalot" on Broadway for Monty Python fans, to a weeklong Caribbean vacation, to artwork, jewelry and a magnum of Moet champagne.

There even was a black alpaca cape.

In addition to the auctions, Habitat sold $10 chances to win quilts in a "heads or tails" feature. Participants stood while the auctioneer flipped a coin, and those who picked the wrong side were eliminated, said Laureen Blucher of Citibank.

Brown Cooper said Habitat officials hope to complete two homes this year and start work on a third. Right now, the organization needs land - and skilled volunteers to guide unskilled volunteers in the homes' construction, she said.

Rising prices for land, permits and building materials are reducing the number of homes Habitat can build, she added, but one local developer, Churchey Group II, vowed to donate $1,000 for every house sold this year to Habitat - and challenged other developers to match that pledge.

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