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Over 300 participate in Great Calusa Poker Run

Annual event raises over $3,000 funds for Calusa Land Trust

December 5, 2012
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The 15th annual Great Calusa Poker Run attracted boaters, bicyclists, motorcyclists, car and golf carts drivers, and kayakers who wanted to try a chance at drawing a lucky hand to win the grand prize.

Michael Weiser, who has participated in the poker run for years, claimed first place and won $1,000 Sunday afternoon.

"It's a lot of fun and it's for a great cause," he said of why he participates in the event every year.

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Ken Pleat, who organized the Great Calusa Poker Run, counted out $350 to John Farrow, who claimed second place during the event Sunday afternoon at Woody’s Waterside in St. James City.

John Farrow, who participated in the poker run for the first time this year, claimed the second best hand and winning $350.

"It's fantastic," he said of the event.

Every year, Farrow said he is out of town when the Great Calusa Poker Run is held, so he was excited to find out he would be on the island this year during the event.

He said he purchased 10 tickets because he came to the event with $50 due to the misprint in the registration price, which was only $5 a ticket.

Douglas Manson, won third place claiming $150.

Del Mergen claimed the loser drawing, which was a $100 prize. He said although he has participated in the event since the very first year, this is the first time he has won the loser drawing.

Mergen said Norman and Marie Gowan, commodores of the Pine Island Boat Club, began the poker run to benefit the Calusa Land Trust.

Every year, he purchases 20 tickets and travels from location to location by boat. This year he said it was a beautiful day for boating.

"That way you can boat and donate at the same time," Mergen said.

Every year he buys tickets because the Calusa Land Trust is a good organization.

This year, Ron Wesorick said 320 participated in the Great Calusa Poker Run 42 boats, 39 bikes, eight motorcycles, 21 cars, four golf carts and three kayaks which raised more than $3,000 for the Calusa Land Trust.

"We had a good turnout," Wesorick said. "It's been a great day, everyone's having fun."

The locations where cards were drawn for bikers, walkers, drivers or boaters included 4111 Galt Island Ave., 2063 Macadamia Lane, Ragged Ass Saloon, 3047 Skipper Lane, Waterfront Restaurant, 2276 Carambola and Woody's Waterside.

The locations where cards were drawn for boaters included Long Cut, Pine Island Shores, 2063 Macadamia Lane, Chino Island, Blind Pass, Jensens Marina on Captiva Island, Green Flash Restaurant on Captiva Island and Woody's Waterside.

This year 32 boats drove out to Jensens Marina to draw a card.

Fort Myers resident Sharon Jones attended the poker run for the second time Sunday. She said she found out about the event last year while having lunch at Woody's.

"We decided to do it again this year," Jones said, which included four people and two dogs - a total of six hands.

They participate by driving their boat from location to location.

"We don't go very fast and its beautiful weather," she said. 'It's all for Pine Island, so you feel like you are doing something worthwhile."

Wesorick said when all the cards were drawn everyone congregated down at Woody's Waterside in St. James City to enjoy food and drinks.

Ken Pleat, who organized the event, wanted to thank everyone who helped put the event together.

"I am new to the island as a permanent resident , I wanted to be involved and jumped in," Pleat said. "Thanks to Pink for all her support and help I appreciate that."

He said people began showing up at Woody's before 8 a.m. Sunday to purchase their tickets, which continued until about noon.

"I was pleased," Pleat said of the turnout. "It was fun."

He encourages people not to wait until last minute to purchase their tickets next year.



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