Highland Park's long-running "Three-Church Rummage Sale" is now four.
A city tradition for decades, this rummage-palooza has in recent years been a collaborative effort among three churches. But on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, Christ Church, for the first time, will join regular participants Trinity Episcopal Church, Immaculate Conception and Highland Park Presbyterian Church to each host their own rummage sales located within walking distance of each other.
It's the ultimate church-crawl.
Secondhand.com ranks the event as one of the 50 must-visit rummage sales of 2013. Indeed, notes Tami Block, chair of the Presbyterian Church sale, visitors from in and out of state have lined up as early as 4 a.m. to jockey for position when the sales open at 7 a.m. The sales last until 7 p.m. on Friday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Each individual rummage sale serves as a fundraiser for that church. But Block, who has been a member of Highland Park Presbyterian Church for more than 18 years, downplays any sense of competition among them.
"We're all doing this to raise funds," she said. "But in joining forces to hold the rummage sales on the same weekend and at the same times, it makes it more of an event and brings more people overall to the community. It raises awareness and excitement."
The sale at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 330 Laurel Ave., will comprise 13 different rooms and outdoor tent areas, with more than 20 different categories of rummage. They include men's, women's, children's and infants' clothing, furniture, housewares, holiday items, linens, electronics, tools, books, toys and games, sporting goods, shoes and accessories, a French Room with better women's clothing, and a "Treasures Room" with antiques, china, and more valuable items, Block said.
Trinity Episcopal Church, 425 Laurel Ave., has been another venerable rummage sale presence. Trinity had its own sales in the 1940s, which the church abandoned for a Christmas bazaar that ran until 1978, said Mary Seaver, director of the church's rummage sale. In 1992, the church reinstated it.
It now works in consort with Highland Park Presbyterian Church and Immaculate Conception Parish, 770 W. Deerfield Road.
"It's a wonderful joining of forces in the community," Seaver said.
Newcomer Christ Church, 1173 Green Bay Road, is devoting its rummage sale to children's items, including small furniture, toys and clothes.
"We're starting small because it's our first year," said Nathan LeMahieu, campus pastor. "We've been trying since we started this church three years ago to be included in as many Highland Park traditions as possible. We (participate in) Fourth of July parade and the Port Clinton Art Fair. This is where we live. We want to have an impact on the community and this is another natural way to be out there and visible."
Each rummage sale varies in size and offerings.
"Ours is more like a boutique," Seaver laughed. "We have six rooms for high quality clothing, holiday items, linens, household goods, artwork, and other treasures, and two outdoor tents for furniture."
Each church determines how it will administer its own proceeds. Money raised by Trinity, Seaver said, goes back into the church's general fund to support the various groups for which the church donates space, including the TRI-CON Child Care Center, Alcoholics Anonymous and the Highland Park Strings.
Christ Church donates its proceeds to MOPS, an international support network that connects mothers of preschool age children, and International Needs Ghana.
Past recipients of proceeds from the Highland Park Presbyterian Church rummage sale have included victims of Hurricane Katrina, Habitat for Humanity, and the shelters Sarah's Circle and PADS Lake County, as well as "whatever the most pressing needs of our church are," Block said.
Four churches-strong, the Highland Park rummage sale is about benevolence. But at its heart, it's also about community.
"I spoke to a woman the other day," Block said. "She is not a member of our church, but she used to come to the sale when she was growing up. She said it's one of the few things from her childhood that she still does. It's a Highland Park tradition."