PINETOP-LAKESIDE — If you were looking for a parking spot on Saturday, Aug. 28 in the proximity of Charlie Clark’s Orchard for the Humane Society of the White Mountains’ 16th Annual Happy Tails event, you likely did a bit of walking unless you arrived early. Though it was impossible to count the number of people who attended, it looked like the whole community was there.

Though the reconciling of the live, silent and blitz auctions, raffle monies and donations will not be completed until later in the week, Director Deena Pace said she did know they made over $100,000, just not how much more above that figure.

She does know that 551 meal tickets were cashed in for food; a record number of 136 of HSWM’s signature drink – the Meowgaurita — were sold; 6 animals were adopted on site; and she heard people say ‘it was the best Happy Tails yet.’

Ten sponsored tables accommodating 10 people each, located in the enviable range of the auctioneer, were sold for $500 each.

They are also awaiting the final tally of the number of tickets sold for The Summer Raffle for the “12’ Aluminum Fishing Boat with trailer which included the 5 HP gas motor and trolling motor; two battery chargers; five life preservers; two oars; three seats; two crawfish traps; two fishing pole holders; two anchors; and a fire extinguisher.”

It was won by a Mary Rose Redding who was not present at the drawing. She was reached later by telephone and was very happily surprised. It is unknown if she is a local or summer resident but Pace confirmed that she will be picking up her boat on Tuesday.

Board President Mike Bosley auctioned off 49 live high quality items and 5 signature desserts.

Prior to the event the sign up sheet for volunteers totaled 95 but even more showed up on the day of the event.

Pace said her volunteers are a well-oiled machine and everything goes off well on event day. And, prior to event day, due to the hard work of the donation collection center — Mary, Deb, Gayle and Gloria — the ground work for ease is initially laid.

Having prepped for the event for so long, and still having to maintain the very active shelter, Pace realized the night before the event that she had forgotten to write the words for her speech. She jotted down what she wanted to say to the crowd and then with all the other things on her mind, she failed to bring it with her. It didn’t matter though; she didn’t need the paper. Speaking as a voice for the animals straight from her heart, Pace said it was easy for her to convey to the crowd what they do at the shelter because it is not about her, but it is all about the animals.

The cost of caring for the animals is in excess of $2,000 per day. Last year The DOGhouse Thrift Shop, one of the shelter’s major avenues of revenue to run the shelter, was closed for five weeks due to the pandemic. The Happy Tails in person event was also cancelled, but to get the funds they needed they did a livestream auction on Facebook. The final tally from the event was around $20,000. That amount did not come close to the $130,000 they raised the year before at Happy Tails. But, thanks to the shelter being named as the beneficiary of a supporter’s estate, the shelter was able to manage.

Pace’s goal for Happy Tails this next year is $160,000. She knows the community showed their support and HSWM has made at least $100,000. She knows one other thing, too, for sure — people here love animals and they love spending their money to support them at Happy Tails.

Mark Sterling and Michelle Carter, former board members who own High 5 Design, started the Happy Tails event in 2006. Though they are not on the board any longer, their love for animals continues and seeing the event still prosper 16 years later is a legacy they can be proud of.

By the way, there is parking around the Orchard today but you might want to plan to go early next year if you had to walk a bit.

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Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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