Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Boats and Bikinis Return in July

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Boats and Bikinis Return in July

Article excerpt

GRAND PRIX: County is to provide charity with $79,200 for the race

SARASOTA

The Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix will take place in Sarasota again this summer after all, with the Sarasota County Commission voting unanimously on Tuesday to provide $79,200 for the event.

The commissioners, who last month had offered less than half that amount, will also provide $3,500 in so-called "in-kind services" to support the race.

Festival officials had set an April 11 deadline to raise the money or shelve the boat races, which are held over the Independence Day weekend.

Suncoast Charities for Children, the group behind the boat race and festival, has held the event each summer for nearly three decades but struggled this year to generate necessary financial support.

"Very few Sarasota businesses came forward to support us or donate since we announced we were struggling to find the funding," said Lucy Nicandri, the festival's director. "We are very fortunate that we got the county to approve this."

The overall cost of the 10-day festival, which includes the boat races, a fireworks display and a boat parade down Sarasota's Main Street, is $150,000, Nicandri said.

Of that, the boat race costs about $100,000 for liability insurance, fees paid to racers, staff on the beach and on the water, marine mammal control and helicopter and crane rentals.

The balance funds the festival's annual fireworks display. Much of that cost this year, however, is being covered by Marina Jack restaurant, Nicandri said.

The annual event has an economic impact of more than $14.3 million and generates 13,000 room nights of hotel activity, according to data from the charity.

Since the charity's stated deadline, Nicandri said that only $1,500 had been raised from local residents and business owners, even though the Sarasota Area Sports Alliance had sent out community notices to spur more donations. …

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