The 2007 May Madness Sale

The Treasure Hunt Takes Place on May 5, from 9 am to 3 pm

In its 31 previous years, the May Madness sale, hosted by the Music Academy of the West, has held a special place for the sophisticated collector, the bargain seeker or even the desperate donator. Estelle Ritter, who was the sale’s chair for 12 years during its formative years, recalled the owner of a 98-foot yacht tried to donate his boat to the sale after he had been denied a tax write-off.

“[T]o get the yacht to Santa Barbara, the Academy would be required to hire a licensed Capitan and a crew of five,” Ritter wrote in a letter in 2004. “The Harbor authorities also informed us that there was no berth that large in the Harbor.”

Needless to say, the yacht donation was not accepted.

One of the sale’s loyal supporters has always been Tab Hunter, a Montecito actor with an astute sense of fashion. Every year, Hunter browses through the men’s clothing department. Last year, Linda Beuret was helping him look through the better sports jackets when Hunter exclaimed, “Now here is a great looking jacket!” He took another closer look, before realizing, “Oh, right, I donated it!”

In past years, visitors have come away with Stuben glass bowls for as cheap as $1 or even a leather-bound, limited edition book on cowboy artist Frederic Remington. This year’s sale, which takes place on May 5, promises to offer another enormous collection, according to Joann Rodrigue and Judy Mack, event co-chairs. The organizers and planners have put together a startling set of true bargains and diamond-in-the-rough treasures – art, antiques, furniture, silver, crystal, books, linens, rugs, sporting goods, electronics and clothing – each toted from a nearby estate, dropped on the Music Academy grounds and spread around the campus for the promise of a second, or maybe a third, life.

For the haute couture or casual duds, Abravanel Hall will be the clothes Mecca for men’s and women’s fashion statements. All of the different department styles, from high style to sports outfits, will be arranged for easy browsing. The dressing rooms are conveniently located and provide privacy.

The Rack, the vintage and designer retail resale clothing shop for the Music Academy, will be open during May Madness. The Treasure House, just a few steps away, will also be open for antiquing buffs and will host the furniture department.

The Ukulele Lulus, from the Assistance League, will once again be performing starting at 10 am in front of the Miraflores estate. MarBorg is providing trashcans and extra dumpsters and eight Santa Barbara Bank & Trust employees are assisting the Women’s Clothing Department by acting as cashiers as part of the bank’s RAVE program to help local non-profits. Ablitt’s Dry Cleaners has provided special discounts for the cleaning of clothes for May Madness and The Rack and A.H. Gaspar of Gaspar Jewelry will appraise jewelry donated to the Rack and do minor repairs on certain pieces of jewelry. Victor’s Florist and Riley’s Florist have donated flower bouquets and Turk Hessellund has donated planting materials for the May Madness Garden Department.

The first May Madness was held in 1975, an idea dreamed up by longtime Music Academy supporter, Isabel Blakeslee, with the intention to raise money to help support the Academy’s student musicians. Members of the Women’s Auxiliary, which was established in 1954, were asked to donate personal items from their homes or businesses and to work at the sale. Today, May Madness has outgrown its original home in Abravanel Hall and now encompasses the entire Music Academy campus.

The money raised from May Madness helps benefit the Music Academy of the West Summer School and Festival, a full scholarship program for world-class pre-professional young musicians who come to study in Montecito for eight weeks. The aspiring musicians are seeking post-conservatory experience by learning through performance and masterclasses, which are open to the public during the Summer Festival.

For May Madness, the Music Academy campus has parking for 180-plus spaces on the lower level by The Rack. Parking onsite at the campus goes quickly so be sure to get there early. The Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel is allowing 24 parking spaces at its Hill Road parking facility. Additional parking will be provided at All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 83 Eucalyptus Lane. Shuttle buses will be making the rounds every 20 minutes or so, dropping off and picking up at the church and the Biltmore parking lot.

The 32nd annual May Madness Sale takes place on May 5, beginning at 9 am with all sales final at 3 pm. The estate sale will be held throughout the campus of the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road.