If you have an interesting photo of the event, please send it to me and I'll add it here for those who've never made it up to Big Bear. :) Thanks!
In 2001, after two years 'off' and out of the public's eye, Garett Maggart, who'd played the beloved character, Blair Sandburg on the cult favorite SciFi/Cop show, The Sentinel from 1996 to 1999, decided to get back into 'business'. At the same time, he discovered The Moonridge Animal Park and adopted it as his charity.
The Park's lease was due to expire and they not only needed to find - and pay for - a new home, but keep the animals cared for at the same time. In 2001, the park started the Alpine Celebrity Celebration event in order to help raise money for both efforts. The first event was scheduled to take place on August 25th and through Garett's 'unofficial' website, he had it announced that he'd be participating in the event. This sent thrilling shock waves through The Sentinel Fandom, needless to say. When Garett then adopted one of the wolves (based on his character's 'spirit animal') named Nova, Shar, who ran the GM website, started accepting donations through her site (and snailmail to Moonridge).
In 2002, Moonridge held the event again and once again, Shar began accepting donations via the website, but fans proved that they'd support the park even beyond the event and did so, thanks to a 'fan only' convention premiering Garett's indie film (written by a TS author), Demon Under Glass. I think approximately $1100 was raised as a result of the con.
In 2003, the idea for the online auction was born when it was announced that donations prior to the event were lower than the previous two years. With the silly notion that somehow Garett might be hurt by the apparent waning of interest by his fans, I wondered what we could do to get the dollars flowing again. Finally I remembered when UPN canceled "The Sentinel", the fans fought to bring it back via some very creative efforts, one of which was to run a story auction. If I remember correctly (and if not, someone will correct me), authors offered up stories and we the readers bid on them by promising to write postcards to TPTB at Paramount and Viacom. That idea, of having an auction, seemed a natural for raising money in Garett's name for the park…and that's how the Moonridge Online Auction was born.
The first auction had a rocky start, but not because of the fans, who were great and embraced it immediately. Great TS authors offered up stories (many nagged asked by their acolytes), fans offered memorabilia they'd collected via TS cons and trips to filming sites; items like scripts, photos, caps, etc. - and many of the fantastic TS artists donated their incredible artwork. One fan found an auction site that wouldn't cost a dime to use (it was actually a fan-run site), which was a Godsend, and then offers poured in with web space so that the collected items could be exhibited and described prior to bidding. The magnificent Virginia Sky (Susan York) was the 'winner' of that honor and, in the years since, has given us a new and more beautiful website each year.
When I originally had the brain fart that resulted in the auction, I discussed it with a friend who jumped in with both feet, namely 'damurlin'. She took the lead with Moonridge to set up their Paypal account and provide us with a Paypal addy. To this day I realize how silly it was that she should do the calling considering that I was the one in California and she lived in the Pacific Northwest! But hey, both our brains were scrambled by the idea of running this thing so that's my story and I'm sticking to it (my shyness be damned!). And yes, we did have to help Moonridge set up an email for Paypal as the first two years, the money went to the web-mistress of Garett's 'unofficial' fan website. For the auction, I wanted to ensure the money went directly to Moonridge (basically because I'm lazy). Of course, we had no idea of the deluge those poor volunteers at Moonridge would soon be receiving!
Once we had everything in place and item donations were flooding in, we set the date for the auction which would run two weeks - Saturdays to Saturdays - ending two weeks prior to the event so everyone would have time to get their money in; our intention being to announce the amount of the fans contribution at Moonridge.
Side Note: In that first auction, we had approximately 150 items which meant I'd need more help in loading them to the actual bidding auction site: thus the "Moonies" were born. I knew I could load fast as I'd done something similar through work for various functions so, with five "Moonies" helping and using my password and ID, we got to work - and it's worked exactly the same way every year we've had the Bidding part of the auction. I divvy up the items with 25 to 30 going to each Moonie and the remainder to me, along with any donations that came in during the auction itself.
The first week of the first auction went very well and, at the end of seven days, we'd already raised $3,000+ based on high bids at the site. Then the unthinkable occurred. It turned out that our second weekend of the event coincided with something called, "National Hackers Day" - and yes, the fan-run auction site was hacked.
One day our auction was there - and the next - gone. Panic ensued; the "I'm going to kill myself" kind, but fortunately several fans had screen captures (with Gershwhen providing the most up-to-date one) and, with another fan pointing us in the direction of 'thefreeauction.com' site, the Moonies and I got everything reloaded to the new site and, in just a few days, had the auction back up and running (I still remember Annie aka: Zanz in TS author-dom, and I working together over the phone, she in Colorado, me in SoCal, to correct the errors that occurred in our rush to get the items loaded to the new site. We laughed ourselves silly, but only because the other option was committing Hara-Kiri).
Sure, we'd lost valuable time, but the fans made up for it as the bidding resumed - fast and furiously. By the end of the auction, we had approximately $7,500 in winning bids with most of it already paid (via paypal) to Moonridge. The rest, in the form of checks/money orders, were delivered on the day of event. We even presented a framed certificate (that by then, was a total mess as I received more accurate totals) to Garett.
Side Note: In years since, we've averaged approximately 300 donated items/stories for the auction and, while the Moonies, to some extent, have changed, the process remains the same fun - but challenging - bit of work.
And btw: For the last few years, the Moonies have been: Marilyn (Arianna) Ande (andeincascade), Rae (of GMOH), Gerri (of GMOH), Chris (luna_61), Janet (our quilting ghuru), and of course, Susan (Virginia Sky), our web mistress - but in the early years, I was fortunate to also have Vickie (Kyanoswolf) & Winds-of-Dawn as Moonies and, as the accountant, Maggie (Delilah) - a job later taken over by Ande until I could do it myself. And naturally, there was my original partner in crime, damurlin.
3) "Animal Adoption" - This happens every year, no matter what, and provides you with the opportunity to adopt animals at the Zoo.
So that's the history of the our Online Charity Benefit!
The Yearly Totals Raised
(These numbers include the first two years, before the auction began. They also include monies raised by the Chinese Auction as it's an extension of the online auction (the items are usually TS themed and often from the online auction itself). The totals for 2003 and on are also probably lower than actual as each year, some fans forget to send me Paypal receipt copies)
2001: $5,000 (Prior to the auction, donations were raised via the first Garett Maggart website)
2002: unknown as in 2002, the amount collected from the Garett Maggart site wasn't published or if it was, I couldn't find it. I only know she announced how low the donations were. If I were to guess, I'd say between $2500 & $3500 donated via the GarettMaggart.net website prior to the Alpine Celebrity Event)
2003: The year the online auction began (see "History"): $7,500
(Moonridge confirmed a higher total than originally posted)
(This was the year I believe the event changed the name from the Alpine Celebrity Celebration to Sentinel Day, in honor of the fans. Garett became the only celebrity guest - except for a year that Richard Burgi was invited but arrived after it was over, and then another year when we all enjoyed GM and RB together at the event)
(this total is low as I never received a confirmed number from Moonridge and we knew there many who'd forgotten to send me copies of their paypal receipts)
(Event at zoo cancelled as staff forgot to notify Garett but we still held the auction)
(Event cancelled because they thought they'd be breaking ground, but the Special/Claim/Adoption part of the auction was still held)
(again, no event, this time due to economy, so ran only the Animal Adoption part of the auction)
Approximate Total Raised for the Park via Online Auction Alone:
It has been estimated that if you count the actual event, the fan donations at Moonridge, plus the auction, Sentinel fans may be responsible for raising approximately:
PHOTOS OF THE SENTINEL DAY CHARITY EVENT AT MOONRIDGE THROUGH THE YEARS
Note: It should be pointed out that over the years, our presentations to Garett and the Park; presentations that announced the amount raised by the auction, have ranged from the simple (but wonderfully messy) first-year certificate; a lovely mug (designed by Agt. Spooky); a plaque (designed by me); fancy and incredible candy arrangements (courtesy of caarianna) with photos from past events; an entire monogrammed leather notebook filled with every single TS contributor, including maps illustrating their countries and/or states! And finally, from the talented justmej (Janet), Garett received his own 'Memory' Moonridge quilt (she's always created one for the auction, and, because of their beauty, were major ticket items for the auction each year). If you have any presentation photos (I only have one), please send me copies - I'd love to add more here. Thank you!
Garett with his candy and memory box
Garett, with quilt in hand, hugging justmej
The Many Faces Of Garett At Moonridge