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Inside SOTW Mag: Like Water In The Desert

Lost to the pandemic in 2020, this year’s Desert Storm Poker Run still faced big pandemic-related challenges just six weeks before it opened. The event’s famed Street Party in downtown Lake Havasu City, Ariz., had been moved to Sara Park on the southern edge of the city limit.

For Desert Storm fans, it’s just a party—and a damn good one. But for exhibitors who pay to be included, it’s the event’s No. 1 marketing opportunity. Though a few exhibitors put a positive spin on it, none were thrilled with the relocation.

Back to its usual fine form, Desert Storm quenched the poker-run thirst for more than 200 participants and thousands of go-fast boating fans. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photography.

And fortunately for everyone involved, including Desert Storm organizers Christina and Jim Nichols, none of them had to face it. Lake Havasu City reversed course and granted the event a permit to hold the street festival in its traditional McCulloch Boulevard location, and the Thursday happening may well have drawn its biggest crowd—estimated in the tens of thousands—to date.

“It was incredible,” said Cherilyn Noack, the vice president of marketing for Teague Custom Marine in Valencia, Calif. “I don’t know if we have ever had a busier street party. We never had a lull. We could barely help people fast enough and often had a line. I think the mild weather played a big factor—plus everyone being ready to come out to an event.

“The street party for sure was a record,” she added. “I really don’t think it was ever that big. Maybe it was that crowded at some years, but only at night. This time, it was packed literally from 1 p.m. to the end.”

To enjoy the complete 2021 Desert Storm Poker Run and more, subscribe to Speed On The Water digital magazine.