Tipsy Seagull to host 17th annual Borden Light Marina Charity Poker Run
FALL RIVER — It's time once again for boaters to start their engines — and folks to flock to the Fall River waterfront.
The annual Borden Light Marina Charity Poker Run will be making waves at the Tipsy Seagull this weekend, drawing a fleet of impressive high-performance power boats from far and near to the city for two days of fun and festivities.
Organized by Mike and Nicole Lund, owners of the Tipsy Seagull and Pier 52, the Poker Run kicks off Friday, as boats start arriving and participants attend special VIP events, but the main event is Saturday.
Powerboats are slated to leave the dock around 12:30 p.m. at the Tipsy Seagull and take off under the Braga Bridge at 12:45 p.m.
What began as a small get-together with a few boats at the former Regatta in Fall River nearly two decades ago, has grown into a much-anticipated summer tradition at the floating tiki bar on Ferry Street that's now in its 17th year.
"There's nothing better than being on the water in the summer. And the Tipsy is a great place to be, with music and the boats that are honestly like artwork," Nicole Lund said.
Roughly 50 to 60 powerboats are expected to launch from the waters of Mount Hope Bay for this year's event, which Lund said will be quite something to see.
"It's different. It's not everyday you see 50 performance boats in one location," she said. "It's a rare sighting around here and it's really cool."
According to Lund, the fundraiser attracts participants from all over the country, from Florida to New Hampshire to New York, as well as spectators who pack the Tipsy or line up their vessels near the Borden Flats Lighthouse to watch the boats go by.
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So how does it work? It's similar to a motorcycle poker run, Lund said.
Participants take off from the marina and must visit various checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The boat with the best poker hand at the end of the run is declared the winner.
Prizes are $3,500 for first place and $1,000 for second place, in addition to awards given out for Best Looking Boat and Best Looking Crew.
The run, which kicks off Saturday after a special brunch buffet for participants, starts and ends at the Borden Light Marina. Other stops include the East Providence Yacht Club, and marinas in East Greenwich, Newport and Bristol, Rhode Island.
The day is capped with a dinner celebration and awards at Pier 52.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Tunnel to Towers is a charity born out of the 9/11 tragedy that provides financial help to families of fallen or injured first-responders and military personnel. The organization assists with the construction of smart homes designed with a recipient's special needs in mind, pays off mortgages, retrofits recipients' existing homes, and provides physical and mental health services.
This year, Lund said two Make-A-Wish families will be attending the Poker Run in Fall River with their children to go on boat rides and join in the fun. Also, the wife of a fallen firefighter will be speaking briefly about how Tunnel to Towers has helped her family.
Lund said last year's poker run raised $53,000 for the two charities and, as always, they aim to top that this year.
"The bar is set pretty high now," Lund said. "The pressure's on. Every year we're planning to raise more and do more."
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Looking to get in on the action, but don't have a boat? Lund recommends heading down to the Tipsy on Saturday morning.
"Saturday for spectators is definitely where it's at," Lund said. "They'll be able to see the boats, meet the captains, the captains are always happy to meet people and tell them about the boats."
Cigarette Racing, one of the Poker's Run's biggest sponsors along with Empire Automotive Group, will have a couple of their boats on hand for the run, and Outerlimits will be bringing a few, including their world record-breaking speedboat.
They'll have T-shirts for purchase, a 50/50 raffle will be held on Saturday morning, and live music will keep the party going Friday night and Saturday at both Pier 52 and The Tipsy Seagull.
Also making a splash at this year's event is a fun, new addition. A dunk tank will be set up at the entrance of the Tipsy Seagull. Special guest Patrick Little, WPRI news anchor, will be among the dunkees crossing his fingers he doesn't get drenched.
You can get three tickets for $5, 1 throw per ticket. The dunk tank is being sponsored by Karl Pelletier, of the nearby Tipsy Toboggan and Canned Heat.
After a year of planning that "feels like it never stops," Lund said she and her husband are very much looking forward to seeing it all come together this weekend.
"We're hoping for good weather, that's always the shaky part of having an event like this and putting so much work into it, but so far the forecast looks good and hopefully it stays that way," she said. "We look forward to a fun, safe event."
For more information about this year's Borden Light Marina Charity Poker Run or to find out how to register, visit https://www.thetipsyseagull.com/poker-run.Purple Heart Day:What to know before you go: