The Return of the Great Catsby supports furry friends

Courtesy Photo The Return of the Great Catsby is Friday at Fletcher Depot. The annual gala is Huron Humane Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The Return of the Great Catsby is on tap once again, to raise money for the Huron Humane Society.

The 1920s-themed shindig gives animal lovers a reason to dress up (or down) and enjoy a night on the town for a good cause, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday at Fletcher Street Depot.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Cindy Johnson, president of the Huron Humane Society. “We depend on these funds to go into our operating budget to sustain the society.”

This year’s gala is sponsored by Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet.

Johnson said that last year’s event raised roughly $22,000.

“Currently we have over 30 nursing kittens at the society,” Johnson explained. “Kitten season has started, so it’s really important that these funds come in. We took in 621 animals last year at the society, and we’re on target to do the same this year. It’s an expensive proposition to save animals.”

The funding goes toward food, supplies, flea treatments, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, and more.

“We spend thousands of dollars each month on vaccinations alone,” Johnson said. “Those animals that come through the shelter need those basic vaccinations.”

This year’s gala is in May, and prior events have been held in March.

“We’re hoping that by having it later in the season we will get more people,” Johnson noted.

She expects at least 150 attendees, but the venue can accommodate up to 800, she said. There is no limit on tickets to be sold.

Tickets are $50 per person, available at the Huron Humane Society, Neiman’s Family Market, As You Wish Gourmet Eatery, The Local Basket Case, or online at

Dinner will be catered by As You Wish, featuring Chef Kevin Peterson. Charles Madison will provide the evening’s music.There will also be live and silent auctions, a costume contest, a 50/50 drawing, and celebrity servers.

A contest will be held to see which celebrity server can raise the most money for the humane society. Donations are being accepted online now.

Celebrity servers include: Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora, Phil Heimerl of True North Radio Network, Grace Marshall of Up North Property Services, F/Lt. John Grimshaw, MSP Alpena Post, Jon Emerson, Huron Distributors (retired), Ange Montie of Alpena Power, Nick Montie of Wolverine State Credit Union, Chelsea Wallace of the Wallace Firm, Gia Kolokithas of NEMROC, and Mike Beiermeister of WBKB-TV.

“These dedicated volunteers will compete in a good-natured tips competition for bragging rights, and the honor of having a dog kennel named after them for an entire year at the shelter,” the humane society website explains.

Johnson noted that a lot of people do dress up in their Roaring Twenties flapper attire, but it is not required. People can wear whatever they feel comfortable in.

Gala committee member Ellen Eagan said there are many wonderful live auction items.

“We have about 10 big items in the live auction,” Eagan said, including a heated massage chair valued at $800, and many others.

“There are some amazing things in the live auction,” Johnson said. “There’s a beautiful necklace from Bolenz Jewelry.”

Other notable items include a private planetarium showing at Besser Museum for up to 50 people, a private plane ride with Dr. Robert Currier, a custom cornhole set, custom chairs and a firepit, an artisan crafted knife, and much more.

Johnson added that the silent auction items are valuable as well, and many generous donors in the community contributed items for both auctions.

Eagan said the event draws animal lovers of all ages, from their 20s on up.

“Bidding is often quite passionate but friendly,” Eagan noted. “The food is outstanding. People just generally have a good time.”

“It’s just going to be an amazing evening,” Johnson said. “We really have fun with it.”

Call the Huron Humane Society at 989-356-4794.