Hoping to reach a total of $3-million in donations to the Emerald Coast Foundation, President of the Florida Powerboat Club, Stu Jones, stresses how important it is to pre-register for the upcoming 25th Annual Emerald Coast Poker Run.
In an effort to make the 25th anniversary of the Emerald Coast Poker Run in Destin, Fla., even more meaningful, the organizers behind the cornerstone event of an entire week of boating fun along the Florida Panhandle’s Emerald Coast are hoping to reach the $3-million mark in total donations given to local children’s charity over the past two and a half decades.
According to Stu Jones, the president of the Florida Powerboat Club who helps organize the event with the not-for-profit Emerald Coast Foundation, reaching that level would be an amazing achievement and is very possible if the event has another “good year,” meaning somewhere in the ballpark of its average of $125,000 to $150,000 donated back to the community through the foundation.
“I think people need to understand that if they want this poker run to continue to be one of the best events of the year and one of the largest fundraisers of its kind in the country, they need to sign up and register ahead of time,” said Jones, who has been involved with the run for nearly 20 years.
“This is a charity event, more so than any other one we produce, so the more people who pre-register, the more we can donate back.”
Once again, this year’s event kicks off with the Emerald Grande Mardi Gras Parade at HarborWalk Village on Tuesday with a dozen or so boats throwing out beads to an estimated 5,000 spectators on the short parade route. On Wednesday, the new AJ’s on the Bayou is going to host the Blues, Brews and BBQ poker run kick-off party in the evening and the next night the Miss Boat Week Party bikini contest is being held at The Block in Fort Walton Beach.
Friday’s festivities include a fun run to Juana’s Pagoda in Navarre Beach with a barbecue sponsored by local performance boater Hugh Patroni Sr., followed by the Rockin’ the Docks captains’ party that evening at AJ’s in Destin. Of course, the poker run, which includes short and long (approximately 120 miles) courses, opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday and wraps up with the over-the-top poker run party featuring poker, blackjack, a silent auction and an all-you-can-eat dinner and an open bar until 9:30 p.m.