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Event Organizers Optimistic With Solid Registration Numbers

With the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana canceled, the Arizona-based Desert Storm Poker Run rescheduled for October and the Florida Powerboat Club having scrubbed two events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 go-fast boating season is off to an undeniably—and unprecedented—rough start. Still, buoyed by solid early registrations numbers, at least a few organizers with early to mid-season happenings remain optimistic.

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The 2020 Boyne Thunder Poker Run is in great shape with registration. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Facing a relatively short window between now and their May 14-17 dates for their Jacksonville River Rally and Poker Run, organizers Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman have approximately 12 to 14 boats signed up. That isn’t far from the number of registrations they had last year at this time, said Harris.

“All the pieces are in place,” said Harris. “The hotel confirmed this morning that they are still planning for us as expected. Everyone involved feels good about it at this point. Obviously, things can change if any one of those pieces—the hotel, the restaurant or the city marina—is unavailable.”

Scheduled for June 12-13, the Four Horsemen Poker Run opened registration Saturday and has already filled two-thirds of its 75 slots.

“ I would say we’re a little slower than last year, but not by much,” said Shannon Radtke, the leader organizer for the Oshkosh, Wis., event. ‘All things considered I’m pleasantly surprised at the outcome thus far and look forward to another sold-out event.”

Said Jacksonville organizer Harris, shown here running his 32-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran called Mad Props with Yvonne Aleman, “Everyone involved feels good about it at this point.”

Time remains on the side of organizers with events later in the season such as the July 10-12 Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan and July 16-19 1,000 Islands Poker Run in Upstate New York. With 115 of its 120 slots reportedly taken, according to the Boyne Thunder event organizing committee chairman Bob Alger, is ahead of where it was last year at this time.

“It’s actually pretty good, all things considered,” said Alger. “We sent out an email to all of our registrants this morning, basically saying that we are moving forward and won’t make a decision—if we are going to cancel—until the second or third week of May.”

With 70 boats registered so far, the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run is 15 to 20 off last year’s sign-up pace for the 120-boat event, according to organizing committee member Bobby Cantwell. But since the novel coronavirus crisis took off, Cantwell and his fellow organizers have maintained a low-profile toward pushing registration for the third annual event.

“I’m actually quite happy where we’re at,” he said. “If we shut down registration and had 70 boats 80 boats this year, I would be totally fine with that.

“We’re not posting on Facebook or even talking about the poker run at this time,” he continued. “The 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run is being respectful to all the people on the frontlines, the essential service employees and certainly the people who have contracted this awful virus. We’re sending heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the families of the people who have passed away from this pandemic. If we all do our part and social distance, we will all continue to ‘flatten the curve.’ And hopefully, within a few months our country, our economy and our poker community will start to be somewhat back to normal.”

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