Annual Benefit Raises Funds for new Acadia Boat

475 gathered under the tent to celebrate and support the Acadia National Park.

Friends of Acadia Annual Benefit Co-Chairs Laura Clark Katona, left, and Kathleen McIntyre start the live auction portion of the benefit at the Asticou Inn on Saturday, Aug 12. In front of them is the first item put up for bid, a spider monkey sculpture by local artist Dan Falt. (Photo by Julia Walker Thomas/Friends of Acadia)


MOUNT DESERT—More than 475 people joined together under the tents at the Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor on Saturday, Aug. 12th to celebrate and support Acadia National Park at Friends of Acadia’s 34th Annual Benefit.

The highlight of the evening was a highly successful paddle raise to purchase a new, safer, and more functional boat for Acadia to preserve its 64 miles of coastline and over 180 conservation easements, most on offshore islands.

Lynne Wheat and Thomas Peterffy of Interactive Brokers led the paddle raise with an opening bid of $100,000. Nearly 100 additional paddles were raised, making the purchase of the new Muson 26’ PackMan Landing Craft at a cost of $375,000 a reality.

The new boat will allow for the transfer of people and equipment directly on the shore for maintenance, resource management, and law enforcement. It will reduce personnel time, provide ample seating and cargo space, and its modern engines will burn cleaner and more efficiently.

Bob Bell, Martha Stewart, Gary Lickle, Betsy Mills, Lynne Wheat, Michele Henry, Tim Harrington, and Gail Clark enjoy the festivities at the 2023 Friends of Acadia Annual Benefit on Saturday, August 12, 2023. (Photo: Ashley Anderson/Friends of Acadia)

“It was incredibly exciting to see so many paddles raised to support the park in the purchase of this important boat,” said Eric Stiles, President and CEO of Friends of Acadia. “The energy and enthusiasm in the room for Acadia was extraordinary and we’re incredibly grateful for every single contribution.”

Friends of Acadia’s Annual Benefit activities kicked off on Wednesday, August 9, with a preview party for auction patrons hosted by Melissa and Reeve Waud at their home, Deep Cove. The preview party generated excitement around the live auction items and inspired record patron-level contributions before the main event.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, under the tents at the Asticou, guests bid on 85 silent auction items including original art, unique experiences, one-of-kind jewelry, and beautiful items for the home. Following an elegant dinner, auctioneer Lydia Fenet led a fun and spirited live auction starting with a wonderful spider monkey sculpture made by celebrated artist Dan Falt, followed by a piece by longtime benefit auction donor Richard Estes, and other wonderful items. The live auction closed with a fun outing with Martha Stewart on Tim Harrington’s wonderful yacht Gratitude. The paddle raise for the new boat for the park set a new record for the auction. The evening ended with dancing to the Jon Bates Band.

The Annual Benefit included live music from the Jon Bates Band – with plenty of dancing, too! (Photo by Julia Walker Thomas/Friends of Acadia)

“It was great fun to see veteran friends and so many new faces this year,” said Lisa Horsch Clark, Friends of Acadia’s Vice President of Development and Donor Relations. “The party was a true celebration of a park that gives so much to so many. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who attended, the wonderful benefit committee, to Chilton Trust—our presenting sponsor for the 10th year in a row, and all the businesses, artists, craftspeople and individuals who donated amazing auction items to help our beloved park.”

Additional Coverage:

FOA event raises $375K for new Acadia boatvia Mount Desert Islander