Possible Dreams auction enlists comedian Jimmy Tingle, moves date

Longtime auctioneer Art Buchwald, shown in 2006, was a very hard act to follow. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Martha’s Vineyard Community Service’s renamed signature summer fundraiser, will be held this summer at a new site, on a new day and date, and with a new auctioneer.

The 35th annual Art Buchwald Possible Dreams Auction, renamed in honor of its longtime auctioneer, will be held at the Winnetu Resort in the Katama section of Edgartown near South Beach on Sunday, July 28, instead of the first Monday in August, as has traditionally been the case.

The auction committee is also bringing in some headline talent. Comedian Jimmy Tingle will handle the gavel.

Mr. Tingle is well known for his social and political humor. He wrote, produced and starred in “Jimmy Tingle’s American Dream,” a documentary that appeared on 60 PBS stations in 2011 and 2012, and has been featured in his own half-hour comedy special on HBO and appeared on numerous television shows.

“This great event promises to be even more exciting this year,” auction chairman Sandra Pimentel said in a press release.

The auction formula, which has raised millions of dollars for the Island’s social services umbrella organization, offers participants a chance to bid on “dream” items that include outings with celebrities of the international and local variety. In 2011, the highest priced item, an overnight on an aircraft carrier, came with a $25,000 price tag.

Last year, an opportunity to see, “Love Letters” at the Vineyard Playhouse with Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and join the couple later for cocktails sold for $17,000, the highest single priced item of the night.

In recent years, auction organizers have searched for the right formula to make up for the loss of renowned humorist and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, the longtime Vineyard Haven seasonal resident who died in January 2007.

“We have been trying hard to find someone who reflects the humor and tenor that Art Buchwald had,” Ms. Pimentel said in a telephone conversation with The Times Tuesday. Describing Mr. Tingle, she said, “He’s funny, witty, and caring, and we just thought he has the qualities that would fit.”

Jimmy Tingle is no stranger to the Island and has performed at the Vineyard Playhouse many times. He readily agreed to host the auction and said it would be an honor to stand where Art had stood, according to Ms. Pimentel.

In 2008, the auction relocated from the Harborside Inn in Edgartown after 29 years, to Outerland nightclub (now Flatbread restaurant) near the airport. In 2009, it pulled up stakes and set up a tent on Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs, where it has been held for the past four years.

Ms. Pimental said the committee thought a change in venue would be nice. The Winnetu offered and the committee accepted. A tent will be erected on the grounds.

The change in date, from Monday to Sunday, was made to accommodate the many weekend visitors who were previously unable to attend. The initial reaction has been very positive, Ms. Pimental said.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services delivers a wide array of programs and services to more than 6,000 people annually, according to a press release. It includes the Island Counseling Center, which offers behavioral health and substance abuse treatment; Early Childhood Programs, including Head Start, child care services and education and support through the MV Family Center; CONNECT to End Violence, a Domestic Violence Rape Crisis Center providing free and confidential services; and Disability Services, which offers programs for persons living with disabilities and their families.

The agency also runs the Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven, known to many Islanders as “Chicken Alley,” which sells recycled clothing and household items.

For more information, call 508-693-7900 or go to mvcommunityservices.com.