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Toys Tour Returns Next Month

For the 16th straight year, boaters from across Florida will gather in Palatka, Fla., to enjoy a couple of days on the water and donate toys to make sure kids in the area have a merry Christmas. The 2016 Toys Tour will take place on Dec. 9-10 in Palatka, Fla.

“It’s the opportunity for everybody to get together,” said event director Russ Matos, who is also known as “Raceboat Rus” boatfreaks.org, a popular online community. “Whether you drive an Allison or a Donzi ZX, we’re all there together to do the same thing.”


Boats of all kinds are welcome at next month’s Toys Tour. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Last year, the Toys Tour attracted 60 boats and Matos said he’s hoping to at least match that number in 2016. Because it’s strictly a charity event, he said the environment is different from a poker run or fun run.

“This toy  run  originally  started  as  a lark,” said Matos. “It was  just  an  excuse for  my  friends and  me to  run down  the river  like  wild  dogs  with  our  tails on  fire, but  as time passed it  has  become more  of  situation of  giving caring and  sharing.”

Because the run is held on the St. John’s River, all sizes of boats are welcome. “We have a guy with a 10-foot boat,” said Matos. “He’s a total nut and he runs this thing like he’s a big guy.”

The event will be held at the Crystal Cove Resort in Palatka (www.cc-resort.com). On Friday, registration opens at 8 a.m. and the boats will gather at 10 a.m. on the docks to get ready for a lunch run that departs at 10:45 a.m. A 5 p.m. there will be a meet and greet at the Resort followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday morning, registration will again be open and there will be a driver’s briefing in the main hall of the resort. The Toy Run starts at 11:30 a.m. departing from the bridge in Palatka to the City Dock in Welaka, Fla., where local public safety officers will receive the toys and gifts. The event organizers ask for non-violent toys.

Lunch will be held at Renegades Resort and the boats will head back to Crystal Cove Resort where a dinner banquet will be held at 8:30 p.m. On Sunday morning, some of the boaters will wrap up the weekend with a run up to Silver Glen Springs in Salt Springs, Fla., where the water is 72 degrees year round for an end of the year swim.

Matos said that Mystic Powerboats has been big supporter of the event and that he is looking for any other sponsors who are interested in participating. The best way to reach out to him is under his name Raceboat Rus at boatfreaks.org.