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Special events can have big community impact

Special events like the ones slated for this month in Cleveland and Ft. Myers, Fla. are proving to be low-cost opportunities to create excitement for boating and related water activities.

Differing from special programs held by an individual dealership or marina, Cleveland’s  “North Coast Harbor Boating & Fishing Fest” and the “Welcome To The Water” weekend at the Ft. Myers City Yacht Basin are large public events to showcase boating in a variety of entertaining and educational ways. For example, in Ft. Myers, boat rides, kids casting contests, boat and accessory displays, how-to seminars and kid’s activities are among the events scheduled.

“Welcome To The Water” is being presented by the Southwest Florida Marine Industries Association on the weekend of June 11-12.  The “Welcome To The Water” title reflects the exciting theme of the industry’s new Discover Boating national campaign unveiled last week, according to SWFMIA president Tom Hansen.

“It’s a boating awareness event,” he explained. “Southwest Florida is one of the finest and most diverse boating areas in the country and I don’t think people have any idea of the opportunities to get out on the water. We hope this celebration of boating will help get that word out.”

On the same dates, Cleveland’s “Boating & Fishing Fest” will be held for the 12th consecutive year. Attended annually by more than 13,000 visitors, the event includes everything from free sail and power boat rides to entertaining children’s shows performed by Capt’n Willie, the Great Lakes Pirate, reflecting the event’s swashbuckling theme. In addition to fishing seminars, kids and parents can go out on the 60’ head boat Holiday for one-hour fishing experiences on Lake Erie. Dockside tours of the research vessel Grandon, sailing aboard the 65’ schooner “Journey” and manning a paddle on a 48’, 20-man dragon boat are other highlights. Hundreds of life jackets, fishing rod/reel combos and tackle boxes are given away.

“This event is successful because it has brought together a wide variety of boating, fishing and safety organizations for a unified focus – a special weekend promoting safe boating and fishing opportunities,” says Ken Alvey, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, one of the founding organizations. Today, 19 organizations ranging from the Ohio divisions of Watercraft and Wildlife to the Greater Cleveland Boating Association provide grant funding and/or manpower for the event. Of course, like the Ft. Myers event, everything is free to the public.

The SWFMIA “celebration” is new this year but it’s expected to be successful enough to become a growing annual event on the Ft. Myers waterfront. If Cleveland’s Boating & Fishing Fest is any indication, early success garners more involvement by more organizations, generates increased support and funding, and tops the goal of showcasing boating to thousands of people in an attractive and exciting format.

Similar events happening in your area? Tell us about them.


2 comments on “Special events can have big community impact

  1. Wendy Larimer

    I’ll assume you just forgot to mention National Marina Day on June 11. 125 marinas from 30 states have registered their day’s events and we are confident there are many other marinas celebrating that we just have not heard from. The whole point of the day is to bring people out to marinas to see their value as gateways to our nation’s waters and to a host of water-based recreational opportunities. We want to change first time visitors to long-term customers. Events include a variety of on-the-water activities and events, as well as landside educational opportunites and entertainment. Don’t overlook the value of National Marina Day as one of the summer’s most valuable special events to create excitment about the boating industry.

  2. Larry

    Lake Havasu City has been a supporter of special-event boating activites since the 1960s when the town was founded. Today, the annual Desert Storm poker run (end of April) has the largest positive economic impact on the City of any event. More than 12,000 people turn-out for the Thursday night Street Party on McCulloch Blvd. Local water patrols estimate the boat count between participants and spectators to be in the thousands. The event also has a “Make-A-Wish” component for kids as well as raising significant amounts of money donations for military charities. It has become the official/unofficial boating season kick-off in the Southwest. In 2012, the event will only be bigger. The 21st Annual Lake Havasu Boat Show and Desert Storm will be combined into a 9-10 day (April 20-29) boating extravaganza. Everybody is welcome!

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