Return to Nardoland

I came back.

Last Saturday night, I did my first live, in-person auction in almost two years.

It kind of came out of nowhere. I remember talking with master Bothell Booster fundraiser Kim Monson earlier this year about the Bothell High School Boosters possibly having an auction, but it wasn’t until a week and a half ago that they asked, “Did you get our email?”  I hadn’t, but Auctioneer Extraordinaire Ken Carson reached out to me to see if I had heard about it and the show was on!

And so, on Saturday night, August 21st, Ken, yours truly and the family and friends of Bothell High School football players gathered at the magical place known as Nardoland.

You could have lived here your entire life and never known that Nardoland exisits. For anyone who attended or had kids at Bothell High School, this is Mecca. I actually wrote a blog about this place several years ago and to this day, I still get random emails from people all over the country who stumbled across the story and want to know how they can get in to see it for themselves.

After the auction last weekend, I actually had a great chance to just sit down and chat with the owner, Ron Nardone. He played football for Bothell back in the early 1960s and remained so proud of his alma mater, he turned his spacious property into a Smithsonian-like salute to his Bothell High School Cougars.

Ron said he only allows events at his place three times a year. For his Bothell High School class reunions, for his wife’s Ballard High School reunions and for the annual Bothell Boosters event.


How you know you’re in the right place

Let me just take you on a tour of the memorabilia on display at Nardoland.


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This is Ron, riding around his compound in a golf cart given to him by a friend down in Palm Springs.

It belonged to his friend’s mom


Ken & I had to get in a quick picture with Coach Tom Bainter. He’s entering his 22nd year as head coach of the Cougars.

And, of course, former Bothell City Councilman (and Cougar assistant coach) Del Spivey was there. I think he’s stalking me.


One of the cool auction stories from the evening: Every year, they offer a package called, “Hekker in Hollywood.” Former Bothell High football player Johnny  Hekker went on to QB at Oregon State and then, became a punter in the N.F.L.. The package included two seats of the game of your choice to watch him punt footballs for the Los Angeles Rams down in L.A., two passes to Universal Studios and $500 cash.  Ken was wrapping up this item with the traditional “Going once, going twice….SOLD!” when a woman claimed she wanted to bump the bidding higher.  At that moment, quick-thinking Coach Tom Bainter called up Johnny and asked if he could double-it and he did.

I also hear that, in the off-season, Hekker is known to return to his Edmonds home and come over and work with the kickers at Bothell High during spring practices. What a guy!

This year, circumstances forced them to make this an outdoor event. In years’ past, we were all jammed inside the giant garage. But this year, they went with a large tent in the fresh open air and I’ll bet this is how they’re going to be doing this for years to come. By the way, here’s the picture that resulted when I asked folks to hold up their bid cards.


I actually originally asked them to hold up their vaccination cards, but they didn’t think that was funny.

My favorite line of the night: “Tonight, I’d like to ask you for your prayers. Oh, I’m healthy, doing fine. I just want to win the lottery and quit my job!”

However, that’s definitely not true. I can’t wait for my next visit to Nardoland. I just might have to blog about it again.

Tim Hunter

PS KOMO TV’s Eric Johnson did a great piece on Ron Nardone and Nardoland. Watch it here.

Welcome to Nardoland

I was going to do another one of my introspective rambles that I seem to be attracted to lately. A thought or two dawns on me that brings the world into focus a little more and so I like to pass those things along. You can take them or leave them, but my hope is you’ll benefit somehow from them.

However, in spite of a very interest recent revelation, I’m going to bump that a week. Oh, I’ll get all philosophical in another 7 days or so, you’ll survive. This week, I have to share something I experienced over weekend. I lived in the Bothell area for 25+ years. I continue to be involved with the local business community, the city and the Chamber of Commerce. I’ve gotten to know lots of Bothell and Northshore folks along the way. But in all those years, I’d never even heard of Nardoland.

In my oblivious defense, Nardoland is actually not in Bothell. It’s technically in Snohomish. But last Saturday evening, when I arrived at my destination to auctioneer at the annual Bothell High School Boosters Auction, I was nothing less than stunned. The event was held at the private residence of a long-time Bothell High School fan and alum–a place known as Nardoland.

Basically, Nardoland is what Graceland would look like if Elvis was a member of the 1961 graduating class of Bothell High School. But in this case, our hunka hunka burnin’ Bothell Cougar is a guy named Ron Nardone. In the years since graduation, Ron has collected all things Bothell High school, from pictures, to awards, to giant logos, to an actual stuffed cougar.

See, I wasn’t kidding.

As you drive on to the property, there’s a building surrounded by memorabilia over there. Another one in the back of the property seemed like an old general store and next to it, the former scoreboard from the high school stadium, before their recent remodel. Ron somehow got ahold of that and each week after Bothell’s latest football game,  he puts the final score up there.

Ron generously donates use of his facility to the Boosters and what a gift! In years past, the group has had to pony up the fees for use of a country club or convention center. But for the past two years, the annual auction has taken place at Nardoland.

I spent my first hour at Nardoland walking around and trying to take it all in. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Besides the Bothell High memorabilia, there were all kinds of things from Bothell’s past. A McDonald’s Drive-Through sign, antique cars and classic school buses; it was like taking a stroll through a Bothell time capsule. Here are just a few of the pictures I snapped during the Happy hour Portion of the evening.

I was just filling in for my radio brother and auctioneer extraordinaire Ken Carson because of a scheduling conflict, so it was just pure luck that this was the year I got to step in. I had a ton of fun reconnecting with some former neighbors, seeing some old familiar Bothell faces and helping Coach Tom Bainter’s program raise the funds they need to enhance the players’ experience even more.

Add to that, Ron is the cousin of a friend from a long time ago and his wife, a Ballard High graduate, went to school with my wife’s cousin. Dang, we’re practically related!

It was a great evening and on top of all that–I got to go to Nardoland!

Here’s hoping that one day, I’ll return. God knows what Ron will have added by then.

Tim Hunter