Last weekend’s cool weather in Palatka, Fla., may have forced the 100-plus participants in the annual Toys Tour on the St. Johns River to don jackets, sweaters, hats and even gloves, but it did nothing to chill the heartwarming two-day event organized by Rus Matos. Approximately 40 boats showed up for Friday’s fun run and Saturday’s main event where toys for children in need were collected from the participants.
Sweaters, jackets and knitted caps—many of them Christmas themed—were the order of both days during last weekend’s annual Toys Tour (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Christmas is all about the kids,” said first-timer Audra Moore of Powerboatpassion.com, a dating website that was one of the event’s sponsors. “There are too many kids born into bad situations or in circumstances who wouldn’t have Christmas without something like this. Rus has been doing this for 16 years and he has a good group he works with organizing and coordinating the event with the fire department and police department personnel who are on the water with us.”
Speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden of Shoot 2 Thrill Pix, who has covered the event for many years, agreed. “It’s all about the cause,” he said. “It’s a great event at a great time of year that makes a difference. There are unfortunate kids out there who wouldn’t have Christmas without it.”
For more images from the Toys Tour check out the slideshow above.
But beyond the charitable component, Boden said, the event offers participants a scenic glimpse into the authentic “backwoods of Florida.”
“If you have never been to the interior of Florida, it’s really cool,” he said. “It’s old-school Florida. Most of the bars and restaurants are family owned and they’ve been that way for years. The lunch stop on Saturday was at Renegades, a great spot, after the toy drop-off. And then a lot of people head down to Silver Springs, where the water is crystal clear.”