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Florida Keys News
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Boats, and now planes and automobiles
Power boat group expands its poker run in Keys

The organizers of a successful 20-year-old powerboat poker run through the Florida Keys are launching another event in the Keys starting Friday, which also includes fancy cars and planes.

The Florida Power Boat Club's annual poker run in November attracts roughly 200 boats a year, Florida Powerboat Founder and President Stu Jones said. The club has put together another run through the Keys, starting Friday -- the inaugural Key West Air, Land and Sea Poker Run.

Jones admits participation for this weekend's event is much lower than the club's November run, but he is optimistic the event will grow over time. The owners of 13 boats, four cars and two planes have signed up for the event, Jones said.

"We started our other event with 22 boats 20 years ago and it has grown to 200," Jones said. "You have to start somewhere."

The planes will start in Pompano Beach, make a stop in Marathon, and complete their run in Key West.

Caravans of boats and cars will start in Miami and descend on Gilbert's Resort in Key Largo on Friday morning. They will next travel to and stop in Islamorada and Marathon in the early afternoon, before making their way to Key West by Friday evening, Jones said.

Friday's festivities will end with a Key West Poker Run Village party at Conch Republic Seafood Co., 631 Greene St., Jones said.

Organizers will be doing powerboat excursions out of Key West on Saturday before wrapping up on Sunday, Jones said.

Florida Power Club Key West poker run to Key West in November and other runs of the group's are regularly aired on the Florida-wide Fox Sun Sports channel. The Key West Air, Land and Sea Poker Run is scheduled to run Fox Sun Sports channel in late June, Jones said.

"We are really selling the destination," Jones said.

In addition to the television exposure, the Florida Power Club poker runs in November have generated a considerable amount of business for Florida Keys hotels and restaurants, said Harold Wheeler, director of Monroe County's Tourist Development Council.

"They are big spenders and their events definitely benefit several different parts of the Keys," Wheeler said. "They really fill up the town (Key West) around the historic seaport area. Their presence is noticeable."

Information about the Key West Air, Land and Sea Poker Run cab be found at the club's website at flpowerboat.com.

tohara@keysnews.com

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