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Auction Cindy with bid sign webBy Barb Zanetti
Photos by Dennis Zanetti

Alamo Palms RV Resort’s Scholarship Committee has raised over $10,000 so far this year in its two major fundraising events – an auction and a Ropa Style Show.
Through generous resident donations, these two events over the past decade have provided over $100,000 in scholarships for Alamo’s high school (PSJA Memorial) seniors.

Residents say that while they have been entertained, they also enjoyed giving their time, talent, and money to make these unique events a success for such a worthy cause.

Auction War Helps Seniors

Knowing their budgets ahead of time, resident bidders come to the annual auction armed with their numbered signs, ready to overpower and outbid even their closest friends. Others spot their “prize” and can’t be swayed to relinquish it no matter what the cost.

It’s the one day at Alamo Palms RV Resort when a deep-dish cherry pie can cost a resident $120, a loaf of cracked-wheat bread $80, and a dozen peanut butter cookies $75. Other than the homemade bakery, lightly used items such as bikes, golf clubs, microwaves and electronics are also on auction.

Auction Cindy and Peg with Peanut Butter Cookies webThe highest bidder is not necessarily the only victor. The biggest winners are seniors at Alamo’s high school (PSJA Memorial). This year the park’s auction raised over $8,000.

“What’s most impressive about this auction is that residents don’t solicit local businesses for donations or contributions,” Nancy Nielsen, co-chairman, said.

“Everything is donated by residents and purchased by residents. And they have great fun doing all of it -- donating, setting up the auction, bidding and winning.”
She explained that she feels no one expects a bargain at this event. And added, “That’s what patio sales and flea markets are for.”

The event doesn’t always go without a hitch. This year, an hour and a half before the auction began, the committee was notified that their first-time professional auctioneer suffered a medical emergency and wouldn’t be available.

Residents Leo Mork and Ron Horn said they didn’t mind stepping up to handle the fast-talking, auction chanting many have come to expect.

Auction portion of audience web“It’s a great experience up there [on stage].” Ron said. “It’s amazing how people open up their hearts and wallets.”

He offered an explanation to why bakery items sell so well.

“People like them because they’re consumable,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about what they’re going to do with their prize when they get home. Even diabetics figure, ‘One time? Give ‘er!’”

After laughing heartily, Leo offered an example of the fun he had while fulfilling his auctioneer role to raise a beautiful floral donation’s value, while at the same time understanding who he could joke with.

“One of the spotters who was carrying stuff around for us starts bidding on the bouquet of flowers,” Leo said. “Then he stops. I jokingly call out to him … ‘You mean your wife’s not worth $75?’ Then the guy bid twice more before he stopped. I didn’t think I could pull off the same chiding a second time. Although his wife didn’t get the flowers, the spotter did a great job driving up the bid.”

Despite the auction’s rule stating “No Clothing” … an exception was made this year for a #15 Kansas City Chief jersey. Nancy said that jersey was a “hot commodity.”

Two other clothing items made their annual “gag” appearance – a fancy pair of panties in an elegant box and a non-descript necktie. After being sold, the underwear and necktie miraculously will return next year – as they have for over a decade.

Auction Rick hoding toy webAlamo Palms residents have been long-time auction contributors, according to the Scholarship Fund’s co-chairperson.

“We work to be good citizens of our community by supporting Alamo’s public high school,” Nancy said. “I think our residents have a wonderful volunteer spirit and have had it for a good 40 years, which is how long the yearly auction has been the park’s major charity.”

After the auction, residents can breathe a sigh of relief that a loaf of homemade bread won’t cost them $80.

Yet next year on Scholarship Fund Auction Day, the same residents won’t mind paying the exorbitantly high prices for bakery items as long as their generous donations are helping community high school seniors improve their futures.

Many residents insist that it is a “pleasure to go to war” with their friends and neighbors for this worthy cause.

Style Show on Steroids: ‘Ropa Goes to the Circus’

Clowning around can’t begin to describe the “Ropa Goes to the Circus” Style Show & Luncheon that raised over $2,000 for Alamo Palms RV Resort’s scholarship fundraiser.

Centered on lunch tables, the circus’ red-striped popcorn boxes sat overflowing with their pearl-white explosions, and the wafting fragrance was difficult for circus ticketholders to ignore. Big-top backdrops surrounded the room with weathered circus posters hanging as accents.

Circus Marlene Smiles webSeveral oversized, cardboard circus figures were placed throughout the room.

Residents hurried to fit their faces into their cut-out holes so they could become an instant “circus performer” – each of their smiles begging to have a photo taken.
After lunch, the circus’ spotlight focused on its afternoon’s ringmaster, Diane Mork, as she took her cue to introduce her Ropa-clad entourage – with descriptive introductions to each of her circus’ performers making their way through the makeshift runway in their Ropa, stylish costumes.

Dozens were introduced including the circus’ tightrope walker, lion tamer with her 80-plus-year-old lion (aka her husband) making his catlike way on his hands and knees, juggler -- who could really juggle, trick dog -- who was too shy or awestruck to do even one trick, clowns, snake charmers, a sumo wrestler wearing a bulbous, blow-up outfit, weightlifter, fortune teller and more.

Diane interspersed the performers’ line-up with the circus’ essential workers… such as its roustabout, doctor, waste manager who followed circus animals to pick up their leftover “Tootsie Roll” debris, and a fireman with his bucket and water-filled “hose.”

Circus Tattoo Man w Ropa Rose webDiane said it didn’t occur to her that this year’s show wouldn’t be successful “because the last nine have been.” She knew things were going in the right direction when the calliope music she found was started at exactly the right place in the program. (She applauded her sound manager.) And the other “giveaway to the show’s success” was the crowd’s laughter.

She felt many of the performers gained more self-confidence, as well as having a chance to show off their creativity by “creating” their Ropa costumes, props, and accessories along with their “runway” walk. The only style-show rule was that at least one item in their costume must come from one of the Ropa outlets.

Many performers, like third-year style show veteran Brad Mallow, wore more than one costume for the show. The one he said he enjoyed most was his “Tattoo Man” get-up. Since all of his artistic tattoos were real, he merely took his shirt off to become his character. And then, due to the “one-Ropa-item requirement” he clutched a long-stem rose between his teeth.

Circus Diane Ringmaster webAfter barkers invited circus goers to “test their skills,” the style show’s first-ever intermission games became a hit.

And then, it wasn’t long before the show was almost over, and lunch was almost a distant memory. Yet there was more scholarship money to be made. After the show ended, most of the Ropa costumes, as well as jewelry and the show’s decorations were resold for $1 each.

Next year a talent show will replace the Ropa style show that has become a fixture, an annual tradition for many with its unique, yearly themes.

But the 2025 directors promise that they will incorporate Ropa into their new event, whose goal continues to be providing high school seniors with educational opportunities they otherwise might not have.