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Many Head for Vail Charity Rummage Sale

August 19, 2003

MINTURN, Colo. (AP) _ In a valley where the rich and famous mix with people who work two jobs, the annual rummage sale is a major event.

``Some of the things are insanely underpriced. The money up here is ridiculous. Some of this stuff is sold just because it is old,″ said Kacee Picot, who got a Wedgewood cup and saucer for $25. Last year she picked up two silver tea sets for $10 each.

More than 500 people lined up before dawn for the 39th annual sale of hand-me-downs from Vail and other valley towns. An adjacent campground, surrounded by the White River National Forest, was full of people waiting for the opening of the four-day sale Saturday.

``Not everyone here is rich,″ said sale volunteer Gail Newman of Avon, the bedroom town next to the gated community of Beaver Creek, home to multimillionaires.

The average wage in the Vail Valley is $31,583, while a one-bedroom apartment averages $808. Surveys have shown that one of every five residents over the age of 16 works two jobs.

Eagle Valley High School wrestling team members collected the 50-cent entry fee this year from 3,000 people on Saturday. The money goes to 60 charity groups. In 2000, the sale made a record $189,000.

More than 400 volunteers, many members of the charities, help set up the sale, which ends next week with everything marked down 50 percent.

Longtime organizer Vi Brown of Vail compares the opening moments, at 6:45 a.m., to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Buyers rushed in carrying garbage bags to fill up with bargains. Moments later the hallways of the dilapidated former Battle Mountain High School building were full of people trying to get into the dozens of sales rooms and cart their treasures out.

Inside, separate rooms were crammed with kids’ clothes, baby clothes, toys, electronics, kitchen appliances and ski jackets. Outside, furniture, bicycles and other heavy items _ carted in by members of the Vail Mountain Search and Rescue team _ were on sale.

``We have a 50-cent room. Everything goes for 50 cents. It used to be the 10-cent room. Inflation, you know,″ said Newman. ``There is a tradition of some campers buying clothes in the 50-cent room and then wearing them for a costume party and parade.″

Jon Morpurgo traveled 100 miles from the Denver suburb of Arvada, with his daughter, Sophie, 5, and son, Tyler, 7, and camped out.

``It’s fun and it’s a great sale. We have friends who come up here every year,″ Morpurgo said. ``We got a skateboard and a football. Sophie got her grandmother a candle.″

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