Headed by the irrepressible “Raceboat” Russ Matos, last weekend’s Toys For Tots Fun Run in Palatka, Fla., attracted more than 50 powerboats while collecting toys for children in need and providing boat rides for military service men and women in the area. On hand for the event for the fifth consecutive year was T.J. Bailey, the founder of the popular boatfreaks.org online community and a well-known member of the performance boating world.
Said Spring Bailey (far right): “I am already looking forward to next year’s run, and wondering what tutu I will wear.” Also pictured here are Toys for Tots participants Erica Ledford, Kim Hullander and Amy Johnson , All photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“It’s always a great time—70- to 80-degree days in December, and you’re on the water with great friends for an awesome cause,” said Bailey, who trailered his Boatfreaks.org Active Thunder V-bottom from Charlotte, N.C., to the Northeast Florida community. “It’s the last chance of the year for those of us who get a stronger dose of ‘Old Man Winter’ to enjoy this crazy sport we all love.
“This run brings in all types of boats,” he continued “From and Allisons and Cigarettes and Skaters to pontoons and cruisers, every style of powerboat is represented. We had an absolute blast as always. Because it’s based on the St. Johns River you can run as fast as you want with plenty of room or just cruise and enjoy the local wildlife.”
For more images of the people and boats at the 2014 Toys for Tots Fun Run in Palatka, check out the Pete Boden slideshow above.
Joining Bailey for the first time at the event was his wife, Spring—they were married during Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., last month. (Readthe story.) Decked out in her signature bikini-and-tutu combo and, Spring Bailey, who is effervescent enough to give Matos a run for his money, was delighted to be part of what traditionally has been a boys-only affair for Bailey and his friends.
“This year, ‘the wives’ came along,” she said. “I can see why this is a ‘guys trip’—it’s not like one of your glamorous runs in Jacksonville (Fla.). It’s in a remote city called Palatka. But it’s the perfect end-of-year boating event. It was exciting picking out bikes and toys to fill the boat up with for Toys for Tots and it was even more exciting picking out what tutu to wear.
“This was my first year attending, and I realized that the same boats and people have been coming to this run for years,” she continued. “It has become tightknit family of boaters who get together to enjoy one last boating trip in Florida and for a good cause—your entry fee is your contribution for Toys for Tots. I am already looking forward to next year’s run, and wondering what tutu I will wear.”