Toys 4 Tots Fun Run

Toy run helps provide presents for local children.

Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

On the weekend of December 10, more than 60 boats gathered at the Crystal Cove Resort in Palatka, Florida, to ensure that children in the surrounding area will have a happy holiday season at the 16th annual Toys Tour.

"We collected over $20,000 worth of toys that will help hundreds of families in the Putnam County area," said event promoter and organizer Russ Matos, who is best known as Raceboat Russ on the website at www.boatfreaks.org. This year, he was helped by production manager Joe Honaker.

“It did get chilly, but it did not dampen anybody’s spirits,” Matos said. “You had to wear a light jacket or sweater, but it was not cold.”

Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

Among those who helped promote the event were the website Boatershicks.com and the Passion for Powerboating Facebook page, as well as Bob Farris, the owner of Farris Construction. He won a minibike at the Saturday night party and donated it back as an auction gift that raised another $500 toward more toys for the kids.

The event draws a variety of boats, from 18-foot runabouts to larger offshore models. Matos said that because the Toy Run is about giving instead of winning a poker hand, the atmosphere is more low key. “It’s the opportunity for everybody to get together,” he said. “Whether you drive an Allison or a Donzi ZRC, we’re all there to get together to do the same thing.”

Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Toys 4 Tots Fun Run
Toys 4 Tots Fun RunPete Boden, Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

The weekend started with a lunch on Friday followed by a meet-and-greet at the resort that evening. Saturday started with a briefing in the main hall at Crystal Cove, and the boats left at 11:30. They ran from the bridge in Palatka to the city dock in Welaka, where police officers and firefighters collected the toys. Lunch was at Renegades on the River in Crescent City, Florida, and then the boats returned to the Crystal Cove Resort for a banquet.

"We had a lot of fun giveaways at the Saturday night party," Matos said. "A lot of people left with fun stuff." To learn more or to get in on next year's event, keep an eye out on www.boatfreaks.org.