From the 180-boat Kuttawa Cannonball Run in June to the 280-boat Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run last month, it’s been a big year for performance boat events around the country. So it’s only fitting that last weekend’s Toys Tour event—the last large-scale, organized go-fast-boat boating event of the year—in Palatka, Fla., delivered a record-setting 136-boat showing.
Powerboats of all shapes and sizes turned out for last weekend’s Toys Tour event. Photos courtesy/copyright Velocity Powerboats/Wally Captures—Walter Braithwaite, Jr.
That translated to hundreds of gifts collected during Saturday’s lunch run that will be distributed to children in need by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.
The weekend began with a Friday fun run on the St. Johns River to famed Dunn’s Creek and beyond for lunch at Three Bananas, which attracted 65 boats. The run was followed by a welcome party at the Crystal Cove Resort and Marina host venue complete with dinner courtesy of several food trucks and live entertainment. The son of Toys Tour founder Rus Matos, Louie Matos took on the DJ and master of ceremonies roles.
Scott McCormick, the owner of Toys Tour title-sponsor Velocity Powerboats in Sanford, Fla., led the feet on the St. Johns River for Saturday morning’s main event. Participants dropped off the toys at the first stop at Welka Public Docks (members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s department transported them to a warehouse for sorting and distribution) before heading to lunch at Renegades On The River and—following lunch—to the pristine waters of Silver Glen Springs.
The traditional stop at Silver Glen Springs is always a Toys Tour favorite.
At the end of the day, the fleet returned to the Crystal Cove Resort and Marina, where the celebration began.
“This was perhaps the best banquet that any poker run has ever seen,” said Walt Braithwaite, the vice president of Velocity Powerboats and the executive director of Toys Tour, Inc., a nonprofit charity. “The red carpet was rolled out and the event room decor was festive. In addition to six food stations with prime rib, oysters, sushi, ceviche and more catered by Qui Mia—one of Jacksonville’s premier caterers—there was a cigar roller and hookahs.
“John Nickoloff and the Rear View Mirror band rocked the event until way after midnight, and Saturday night’s master of ceremonies, Del Flores of the Spartan Powerboat Club, gave away door prizes including a really cool mini-bike,” he continued. “The night was perfect and the guests were treated like royalty.”
Sunday morning saw the organizers and the Putnam County Sheriff’s department host the event’s first-ever children’s Christmas party as what Braithwaite described as a “dry run” for the 2022 event, which is set for December 2-4.
“This is what it is all about,” Braithwaite said. “To see these kids’ faces light up that morning makes me even more passionate to make this even a bigger event next year.”
For those who wanted a little extra Florida sunshine on the St. Johns River, the event finished up Sunday afternoon with a run to Jacksonville. Approximately 40 boats made the trek to Whitey’s Fish Camp for lunch.
With the record-setting Toys Tour in the books, the go-fast-boating year finished in fine fashion.
Said Braithwaite, “For next year’s Toys Tour, big things are planned to top this year’s event.”