Manchester by the Sea’s 375th Celebration Committee recently auctioned off authentic town street signs with all proceeds going to installing dedicated trees and plantings in honor of the town’s anniversary. And to ensure that this mission is well stewarded, the committee has happily endowed the Friends of Manchester Trees with this responsibility.
With the pandemic putting a damper on much of last year’s planned 375th anniversary events, the Celebration Committee worked to create different ways to honor the town. The sign auction was a fun activity targeted near the holidays with what became a chance of a lifetime for bidders to acquire a piece of the town’s history – and at the same time contribute to its future.
The town graciously donated over 50 signs of varied styles and eras. Some of the items were unique antique signs with original hardware intact, and some were more modern green road signs. The 375th team inventoried, cleaned, and painstakingly took photographs of each sign to upload to an online auction system. Going virtual made it easy for the broader community to participate in the event.
The moment the auction launched, bidding took off. A steady stream of bidding took place over the three weeks the auction ran, with a final burst of activity during the last day and moments. The team ensured participation was anonymous, which led to some interesting bidding wars. One of the winners shared a funny twist: “My husband and I were so happy to secure our sign right before bidding closed. When we gave the gift to my husband's parents for Christmas, we found out they were one of the other bidders! The sign now sits on the dining table that we use for social distanced meals outside with blankets while we endure the rest of this pandemic. It's a great reminder of hope for the future knowing that the funds are going towards new trees in town and we look forward to watching them grow.”
Many individuals who participated do not currently live in Manchester, but have deep ties to town, having grown up or lived locally. Garnering a sign gave them a special memento or gave them an opportunity to share wonderful memories as a gift to a relative. One former resident noted, “What a fun idea and such a treat to have a little piece of Manchester from the street that lined my favorite stone wall to walk along to the library throughout my childhood -- Church Street!”
There was an overwhelmingly positive feedback about the auction and queries into holding future like events. There were a lot of happy faces when the winning bidders picked up their signs, and everyone that ran the event and participated were thrilled knowing that they were contributing to future town beautification.
“Through the generosity of our community's winning bidders, and the exceptional organizational efforts of the 375th Committee, Friends will gladly apply the $5645 the auction raised to the much needed, timely, ongoing work replacing losses of our Town's essential public shade trees. Equally significant is applying these funds to service the future of current Town trees, bringing back, maintaining the healthy shape and condition of longstanding and recently planted arbors. Thanks to all who shaped and participated in this creative and important event," noted Su Mittermaier, President, Friends of Manchester Trees.
The 375th Celebration Committee thanked everyone who took part and donated to the auction, thus allowing this bequest to the Friends of Manchester Trees to take place. Committee co-chairs Tom Kehoe and Sue Thorne would also like to thank their team of volunteers, especially Sandy Rogers for all the work she put into prepping and running the auction, and Joe Sabella for the original idea and working with the Manchester DPW to acquire and garner permissions to auction the signs.