Pietrasanta, Italy, is the hometown of head of high school Brooke Wells. And products from this town on the coast of northern Tuscany will fill one of the “hometown baskets” at this year’s auction.
In fact, the 40th annual auction will include over 25 hometown baskets filled with items from parents’ and teachers’ hometowns.
Wells’s basket will be filled with Italian food products, such as tomato sauce, olive oil, candies, wine and honey. It may also include something marble (like a cheese cutting board) since the city is famous for its marble quarries.
The auction, “Hometown Journeys,” will be Saturday, Feb. 25, at the California State Railroad Museum (125 I St.).
“Hometowns include places as far away as India, China and South Africa,” auction co-chair Sandy Buchanan said.
“‘Hometown Journeys’ hopes to applaud the details that make our hometowns so interesting,” Buchanan said.
Auction participants will be on the bottom floor of the museum, allowing them to view trains such as an FP9 diesel, the classic streamliner engine of the ‘40s and the ‘50’s; a giant rotary snow-plow removal machine; the Southern Pacific cab forward Mallet, the biggest locomotive in the world; and a dining car featuring a menu, chinaware and silverware from the ‘50s although not all may be on display.
Buchanan said that one of the challenges of an auction venue is finding one that’s large enough.
“We chose the railroad museum because it’s spacious, interesting and in a central location,” Buchanan said.
At the auction, parents will dine on foods including fried chicken, tri-tip and mac ‘n’ cheese, all served family style.
For parents who have enjoyed dressing up for the auction in the past, this year is less about the outfits and more about the experience.
“The dress code is dressy casual,” Buchanan said, “formerly known as ‘Wear what feels good.’”
As for high-school students, the auction is still looking for volunteers.
According to Julie Nelson, director of communications, the volunteers will assist at the registration table, help with the silent auction tables, show class projects to the audience and work in finance, where parents pay their auction bills.
Besides the admission tickets, the Golden Ticket will return this year. This is a drawing that gives the winner the opportunity to select any Live Auction item before the auction starts. Golden Tickets cost $100, and only 150 total are sold.
Some of the most interesting offerings this year are tickets for Bruno Mars, U2 and Ariana Grande concerts, as well as tickets to Rivercats, Kings and Red Sox games.
There will also be getaways from Mexico to Monterey and some pieces of designer jewelry by Tacori and John Hardy.
Besides items, donations are a big part of the auction as well. One of the largest donations has been the Last Cavalier Standing, a bid competition to see which bidder will donate the most money to the Breakthrough program.
However, this title no longer applies.
“No one stands anymore,” Nelson said. “It’s all done with bid cards. We changed the name last year to ‘Fund-a-Need.’”
And this year, the Fund-a-Need benefits the school’s new Scholars Program instead of Breakthrough.