The Parish of St. Ann’s 39th annual church bazaar was so successful — and, as its chairwoman said, certainly blessed by St. Ann, grandmother of Jesus — that planning is already beginning for next year’s 40th.
“This year it was a huge success — beyond our wildest dreams, really,” said Alexis Sclama, the event’s chairwoman.
The amount raised wasn’t yet final mid-week, but Sclama’s goal was $100,000, for the church’s operating budget and to pay for resurfacing the parking lot.
“Overall, it was excellent. Not a single problem, no issues. Our customer survey forms were all wonderful. Parking is always an issue, but that’s nothing new. No complaints. They loved the food. Many people want the bazaar to be longer. They hope we add more days to it. We hope to extend the days next year,” Sclama said.
The Sunday-school rooms where thousands of items were displayed have now been emptied, and what didn’t sell was loaded into a Christian Storehouse thrift-shop truck, with plans for return visits.
Hundreds of bazaar volunteers will be thanked at an appreciation luncheon on Aug. 28.
Sclama said she is grateful to Bethany Blues BBQ restaurant, Armand’s Pizza & Grill and Ba Roos Ice Cream & Coffee for donating barbecue, pizza and ice cream, and for Hocker’s Super Center for discounting groceries.
“My goal is not to overwork any of the volunteers. Every volunteer I thanked said, ‘Oh, I didn’t do very much,’” she said.
But they were certainly busy and helpful on premiere day last Thursday, working in rooms like the one stocked with Christmas goods, from poinsettia-pattern dishes and glassware to decorative wooden sleds and Nativity sets.
Hundreds of shoppers were crowded within the St. Ann’s campus, waving at friends, admiring furniture, finding something new to love or something older to appreciate.
Sclama, excusing herself from a conversation with the Rev. John Klevence, church pastor, greeted a visitor to the baked-goods area and pointed out specialty cupcakes shaped like hotdogs and hamburgers, with artfully formed cheese and lettuce.
“All the baked goods are made by parishioners and all freshly made,” she said.
“We started having meetings of all the captains and making plans for this bazaar in February. Captains are in charge of specific areas, like linens, kitchen items, books, the silent auction. We have things in two major buildings, three tents, a shed, and out in the courtyard,” she said.
“Everything is donated from people in the area. Businesses have been very generous. There must be 1 million items here, if you count everything — every cookie, every little thing in the appliance room, linens, the Christmas room. We also sell advertising for our program,” she said.
Smiling, she said that when she joined the church three years ago, “I had no idea what I was getting myself into.”
She was told there was a former chairwoman of the bazaar, and that the church needed someone to take over.
“The next thing I know, I went home as the bazaar chairwoman,” Sclama said, making her way through the crowd and greeting Pat Duchesne, who directed the bazaar for 18 years and continues to help.
“Everybody has a talent that is unique, and they all help. We might have a computer that needs work, and a volunteer will come in and they will put in a hard drive,” she said.
About 500 people attend the premiere night of this year’s bazaar, with hundreds more attending on Friday and Saturday.
For the silent auction, there were about 290 items, including baskets stuffed full of items.
Bicycles, golf balls neatly packed in egg cartons, candles, grills, fishing poles, skates, tennis racquets, tools, wristwatches, mirrors, scarves, sofas, bedroom sets, tables, golf bags, bookbags, bicycle helmets, lamps, toys, framed pictures and gifts with a nautical theme packed the overflowing inventory.
The bazaar attracts fellow church members, locals and those who live as far away as Baltimore and Rockville, Md.
“One person called and said her family wanted to rent a house for the week. They were planning to come to the beach, and they wanted it to be the week we had the bazaar,” she said, as the Rev. Klevence nodded.
“It is so popular,” he said, sipping rootbeer from a can and smiling.
“They plan their vacations around this bazaar.”
By Susan Canfora