OWATONNA — As the weather on Saturday continued to worsen throughout the day, members of the St. Mary’s Night of Knights Auction committee admitted to worrying.

“During the day when the snow was coming down and we’re calling to have the lot plowed, we were all wondering if we would have even 70 people show up and just have to bid on everything ourselves,” said Susan McCabe, one of the auction coordinators. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

With good reason.

More than 400 people showed up at St. Mary’s School on Saturday evening to enjoy the multiple raffles, giveaways, and auction items. In the end, the event brought in $335,000, including a $100,000 dollar-to-dollar match from Federated Insurance. The matched funds from Federated will go directly to the building loan that was used to fix the school’s floors a couple of years ago, according to McCabe.

“We couldn’t really be happier with how things turned out,” McCabe said. “It was an amazing night and the community really came out for us.”

Because of the springtime blizzard, the committee made the last minute decision to open up the silent auction online and allow people stuck at home to bid. McCabe said that from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., a number of people continually called in to check on items and place bids.

“That was not anything we were prepared to do. We kind of had to figure that out on the fly because of the weather,” she added. “But it was wonderful.”

During the live auction, McCabe said that the most exciting items ended up being a school year’s worth of monthly family meals prepared by the St. Mary’s teachers. Three different families got in on the biddings, with each package going for $1,000 a piece.

The items that went for the highest amount of money were the two HVAC systems, donated by Dave Lax of Central Heating and A/C of Owatonna. Both of the systems, valued at $8,000 a piece, went for $10,000 each during the live auction.

“We are very grateful for Dave Lax,” McCabe said. “[The systems] were one of the highest bidding items we’ve had on the auction that I can remember.”

This was the last year for the Vegas theme for the auction, which changes every three years, as well as for McCabe and the other committee members on their third year of service. McCabe said that she looks forward to attending the well-oiled event next year as a participant and to see what the new leaders will come up with. Most importantly, though, she is ready to be a part of the giving.

“It was the spirit of giving,” McCabe said in regards to why the event was such a success despite the weather. What else are you going to do on a snowy night but come out and support your community?”

Reach Reporter Annie Harman at 444-2378 or Follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie.

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