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Inside SOTW Mag: Sarasota Comes Through

Calling off the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival in Southwest Florida was among the hardest decisions— maybe even the hardest decision—organizer Lucy Nicandri ever had to make. But faced with the volatile dynamics and social distancing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicandri, who works year-round as the executive director of Suncoast Charities For Children, had no choice. After postponing and rescheduling the weeklong event once, Nicandri met with her board of directors and sponsors and made the hard call in early May.

For all the right reasons, the inaugural Sarasota Blast On The Bay Fun Run was an instant hit. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“In an effort to protect the integrity of our race site and show respect to our sponsors, coupled with continued concerns surrounding managing proper social distancing and safety, we felt it would be in the best interest of everyone to postpone until next year,” she said. “What was reassuring that all of our sponsors said, ‘You’re making the right call. And you’re in our budget for next year.’”

But the weeklong festival, which is anchored by the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, does more than bring dollars—to the tune of $29.6 million dollars in estimated economic in 2019—to the area. The event raises more than $100,000 each year for the Suncoast Charities For Children, which is a significant portion of its annual operating budget.

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