If you see a former Boston Red Sox, Bruin or New England Patriot on Sept. 27 and 28, you’re probably attending the 29th edition of the Boothbay Charities Classic. Once again, a host of retired athletes are heading to Boothbay for the annual Special Olympics Maine fundraiser. In 2018, the celebrity golf tournament and lobster bake raised $65,000.
Co-chairman Tony Krason has been involved with every BCC since it began in 1990, even when it was the Windjammer Classic and held in June, not September. Krason describes this year’s format as similar to past ones. The lobster bake and silent auction begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 at Boothbay Railway Village. The live celebrity auction follows at 6 p.m. hosted by WMTW anchorman Steve Minich and WGME morning anchorman Jeff Peterson. On Saturday, the celebrity golf tournament tees off at 8:30 a.m. Twenty-two teams with one celebrity and four golfers will play a round at Boothbay Harbor Country Club in Boothbay. The tournament includes hole-in-one and putt for dough competitions.
But every year, the showcase event is the charity auction. This year’s follows a pattern similar to past ones. The silent and live auction have dozens of donated sports memorabilia, game tickets and special sporting and non-sporting events. Among this year’s top items are a baseball bat used by retired Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and an autographed football helmet signed by 15 Pro Footballl Hall of Famers including Ted Hendricks and Steve Largent.
But the auction offers more than items prized by sports fans from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Both auctions have locally donated items for trips, excursions and specialty gift baskets. “There is something for everybody. We have gift baskets from Pinkham’s, Gimbel’s and other local businesses. There are trips, tickets to games, restaurants and stays at inns,’” Krason said. He was one of the original people who developed the concept of a charitable event in the Boothbay peninsula. In 1990, it was a project to promote Windjammer Days in June. Krason and then-Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barb Hampson recruited several key community members to begin the WCCO.
“We wanted to bring attention to Windjammer Days and raise money for a cause. A committee was created which included Hampson, Ken Marston, who ran a sports pub, Tommy Blake whose family owned the country club, Mary Brewer, who was the Boothbay Register’s managing editor and ... husband Butch operated a clam and lobster bake business, and Jane Good from Southport. That’s how it began. We raised $1.500 that first year, but it has grown to what it is now,” Krason said.
About 15 years ago, the WCCO ended. The country club wasn’t available due to its expansion from a nine- to 18-hole golf course. The next year, the event returned with a new date and new name. It became the Boothbay Charities Classic. The golf tournament moved to September and the Chamber of Commerce is no longer involved. But for Krason, a couple important ingredients remain in the BCC’s successful recipe: Special Olympics Maine and strong community support.
“I’m overwhelmed each year from the generous support from such a small community. It makes all the work worthwhile,” he said. “This charity helps train athletes here and all over the state.”
The BCC provides money for training 4,700 Special Olympians in Maine.