CHATHAM – Despite the theft of four of the 43 sharks in the park – one of which has yet to be recovered – an auction of the whimsical sculptures exceeded last year's total by nearly $8,000.
The online auction, which ended last Friday, earned $50,079, half of which goes to the sponsor, the Chatham Merchants Association, and half to the individual artists whose work attracted thousands to the downtown display over the course of the summer. Last year's auction earned $42,339.
“What's so nice is that the bidders are so excited about getting a shark,” said Janice Rogers, who headed up the event for the Merchants Association. Winning bidders came from 13 states, she added.
Merchants proceeds from the auction are used to support scholarships, special events and other programs.
The top amount of $3,750 was bid for the Chatham Clothing Bar shark, a mosaic created by Danielle Lang. The second highest bid of $3,450 was garnered by the Chatham T Kids shark, also created by Lang.
Rounding out the top five bids were Mahi Gold's shark by Tilda McGee Bystrom at $3,150; $2,300 was bid for the Welcome to Chatham sign by Jerry Evans; and the Mayflower Shop's shark, created by Rustic Marlin, earned $2,150.
All together, there were 17 winning bids over $1,000, five over $2,000 and three at more than $3,000. There were several last-minute bidding wars on several of the sharks, which Rogers said drove up the final tally. Many of the winners were enthusiastic, she added, and some had great stories to go along with the sharks they choose. One man bid on a shark created by Girl Scout Troop 65479 because it was festooned with positive words and phrases and reflected how he thought he should live his life. Another person had tried and failed to win a shark last year but was thrilled to be successful this year, she said.
Along with the sharks, there were several “boats in the park” as well as the Welcome to Chatham sign and a facsimile of the Chatham Coast Guard Station.
One of the sharks was taken in June from Kate Gould Park but was found in a nearby parking lot. Earlier this month the Chatham Real Estate-sponsored shark, painted by artist Heather Labbe, was taken from the lawn of the Eldredge Public Library and has yet to be recovered. Labbe painted another shark for the company, and that earned a $1,050 bid in last week's auction. There is a reward for information leading to the recovery of that shark; anyone with information can call the Chatham Police anonymous tip line at 508-945- 8847.
Two other sharks were taken two weeks ago but were quickly recovered.
This is the third year the Merchants Association has sponsored Sharks in the Park (which begins at Kate Gould Park around Memorial Day and moves to the library lawn just before July 4 at the request of the park and recreation commission to accommodate the summer band concerts). Rogers thanked the Eldredge Library for allowing the use of its front lawn. Thousands of people viewed the sharks at both venues, she added; 6,000 shark brochures were distributed between July 1 and Aug. 19, and two guest books were filled in just two weeks, with comments left by visitors from all over the country as well as Europe and other far-flung places.
Along with the high total of the auction, that indicates to her that the appetite for the event is not yet satiated.
“I think we will do it again, unless the board decides to take a year off,” she said. There was talk about trying to a different sort of shape, such as a ship or seal, but she added, “I think sharks are the attraction.”
Rogers also thanks Hinckley Home Center, Coastal Forest Products and Versatex for donating the material (Versatex) the sharks were made of, Stello Construction for cutting out each shark and Jerry Evans of Chatham Wind and Time.