Special events can have big community impact

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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.


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