by Mike James
For 25 of the last 31 years, I have been involved as an auctioneer at the Ocean Beach Christmas Festival Auction, representing the James Gang brothers. This years auction will be held Thursday Dec. 2nd at the Sunshine Company Saloon from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
I will be joined on stage with NY Myke (owner of San Diego Harley Davidson and KCBQ radio personality ), Goat (M.C. at the Largest Biker Bar in the World, the Full Throttle Saloon, as seen on TRU TV), Mouse (O.B. Surf Legend and occasional HIGH bidder), Madison (KPRI Morning Guy), Ed Decker (City Beat columnist and infamous O.B. bartender) and the beautiful Temptress Fashions Girls.
Since 1980 the Ocean Beach Tree Festival Auction has raised over $100,000 for worthy Ocean Beach organizations and charities. The auction has not only been a great fund-raiser, but in O.B. fashion, has always been a little eccentric. This year is bound to be more of the same (especially with a Goat and a Mouse as auctioneers).
The idea for the auction came from my brother Ron James, who as a member of OMBAC, had been involved in a similar fund-raiser (drunken soirée) held at the Beachcomber Saloon in Mission Beach in the 70’s. Items from local merchants, sports teams, local artist, etc…, are donated and then auctioned off to the highest bidder (as this is held in a tavern, highest sometimes has dual meaning).
During the first year of the Ocean Beach Tree Festival (the official name in those days), the auction proceeds helped fund the first tree and covered the costs of transporting it down from Mt. Shasta. Part of the money was also used to rent a camper trailer to house the Securitree team in the pier parking lot.
The Securitree Team’s role was to guard the tree 24/7 from possible damage by misguided drunks, stray dogs or tsunamis (no tsunamis were reported the first year).
The auctioneers in 1980, included my brothers, Ron and Rich (Ocean Beach Tree Festival founder) as well as DJs from KCBQ radio. As a teetotaler in those days, I was given the opportunity to fill-in at the end of the evening as many of the other auctioneers had succumbed to alcohol-induced babble (nothing worse than a babbling auctioneer).
The first year was such a success we had extra money to buy O.B. Elementary a mimeograph machine (I miss the smell of freshly mimeographed paper).
Over the years the auction has had guest appearances from the San Diego Padres, Chargers and Sockers players.
In the early 80’s numerous Chargers made appearances year after year. During the auction many of the Chargers “linemen” spent considerable time in the alley for “smoke breaks” with the locals (this was before drug testing).
Radio personality, restaurateur, Cy Young winner and former Padre, Randy Jones has been a regular at the auction for years (I have never seen any baseball players in the alley). In 1984, players from the National League Champion Padres, Bruce Bochy and Craig Lefferts made an appearance. Padre pitcher Mark Grant used the event as a stepping-stone for his career as sports announcer.
Another sports highlight was the year I was auctioning and demonstrating a weight set. I accidentally dropped a 10 pound barbell just inches from the foot of San Diego Sockers player Fernando Calvijo, nearly ending his career.
Bidders always seem to have a fun time and many end up with some great bargains. Here are some tips for responsible and effective bidding:
Come a little early (auction starts around 6:30 pm), check the auction list and decide what items you want to bid on.
- Only buy what you really want. Plan on paying for it right then and there. Bring cash, checks or credit card. Don’t make us come find you!
- Hold up your hand if you want to bid. If the auctioneer doesn’t acknowledge you, wave wildly and yell “Hey, over here.” Sometimes auctioneers have poor eyesight (especially as the night and the beer drinking progresses).
- Don’t wave to friends. You may end up paying $50 for a $25 gift certificate to Red Lobster.
- Check out who you are bidding against. Don’t unknowingly bid against your spouse for the Couples Spa Treatment.
- Avoid bidding wars against inebriated bidders. They tend to bid just for the thrill of the hunt.
- If you do plan to get drunk, have a friend be the designated bidder. If you are not careful, you might wake-up the next day the proud owner of a $250 Hello Kitty tricycle.
Remember that all the money raised goes to a good cause. Don’t feel bad if you do pay $350 for a night at the Point Loma Best Western .
Good Luck and good bidding!
Mike James will also be announcing the O.B. Christmas Parade, Saturday Dec. 4th at 5:05 pm (O.B. time). You can find him in front of (and sometimes in) the South Beach Bar and Grill.