In what has become a holiday tradition in Palatka, Fla., the annual Toys Tour will take to the St. Johns River this Saturday with the goal of collecting gifts for children who otherwise would have to go without. The event, which is organized by Rus Matos, a 59-year-old retired corrections officer, is celebrating its 19th anniversary this year.
As it has for the past 18 years, the Toys Tour is returning to Palatka this weekend. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Registration opens today at the Quality Inn, the event’s host venue. All that is required of participants beyond officially signing up for the event is that they bring one or more toys and plenty of holiday spirit for the weekend.
The event will start with at 11 a.m. Friday with a casual lunch run to 3 Bananas waterfront restaurant in Crescent City, which is about an hour down the St. Johns Rivers from the Palatka. From there, participants will return to the hotel for an evening party with live music at Beef O’ Brady’s restaurant.
The mandatory captains meeting will start promptly at 9:30 a.m. the following morning in the hotel lobby. The fleet will depart shortly after the meeting and travel to the Welaka City dock, where participants will hand of their gifts to representatives from the Putnam County Police Department. From there, the participants will continue on their way to lunch at Renegades restaurant, then return to their Palatka home base for another party—this one with a DJ—at Beef O’ Brady’s in the Quality Inn.
“If you want your dreams to come true, you better help everybody else’s dreams come true,” said Matos in a 2017 speedothewater.com article covering his event. “Because what goes around, comes around.”