Holiday shopping didn't wait until Black Friday in Kent. The crowd on hand for the Brunch Bunch gathering on Thanksgiving morning was in a buying mood, too.
But these shoppers weren't bargain hunters. They were bidding on a variety of items being auctioned off at the annual "fun-raiser," a Kent holiday tradition for more than 40 years, with all proceeds aiding several local charities.
Auctioneer Mike Tontimonia, with assistance from guest auctioneers Rob Senderoff and Herb Page, encouraged spirited bidding among those who filled the Kent American Legion hall throughout Thursday morning. Also joining in the fun were members of the Kent State University Golden Flashes, who joined basketball coach Senderoff in auctioning off KSU athletic items.
Basketball player Brian Frank brought the bidding to $800 for a chair signed by the team, while Senderoff brought in bids of $550 from a pair of fans who will share a day with the team when it plays Cleveland State and Youngstown State. Another fan bid $1,000 to be an honorary coach at a KSU home game.
Page, the KSU golf coach, auctioned off a putter signed by KSU alumnus Ben Curtis, a British Open winner, opening bids for the collector's item at $500. It went for $800 to an Internet bidder -- a first in the 44-year history of the Brunch Bunch gatherings.
Page, who was a member of Kent State's 1972 championship football team, also auctioned off a 40-year-old football signed by Coach Don James and the team members who played in the Tangerine Bowl. It went for $800, with a 1972 Kent State tshirt included as a bonus item. Page himself paid $1,000 for a 2012 KSU football autographed by the MAC East championship team. Another championship item, a baseball signed by the KSU's World Series of College Baseball team, brought $600.
In addition to the sports-related items, a variety of holiday-themed gift baskets drew strong bids as did a variety of dinner packages. A ride for two on the Goodyear blimp went for $1,000. An original "Crankshaft" comic strip signed by artist Tom Batiuk drew a $250 bid. A CD signed by Glen Campbell, who performed recently at the Kent Stage, drew a $40 bid.
The auction lasted more than three hours, and many stayed throughout the bidding, enjoying coffee and doughnuts as they bid on items and watched others bid.
Tontimonia drew a laugh at one point, when it appeared that a bit of clarification was needed during the bidding. "You were waving at somebody?" he told one bidder, "Well, enjoy your basket."