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Family claims top prize in boat parade

Published:   |   Updated: April 17, 2013 at 09:11 AM
NEW PORT RICHEY -

The weather didn’t rain on the Chasco Fiesta Boat Parade Saturday as the Lehrke family claimed the grand prize.

Boat parade participants and spectators got drenched last year. Storm clouds were predicted to gather once again this past weekend.

But this year, boat parade chair Tim McClain and his crew recruited Jim Van Fleet as parade marshal, and the 10 News chief meteorologist seemed to provide a lucky charm for the festivities, organizers said with a chuckle.

Van Fleet helped cowboy poet and former country radio host Les McDowell, the master of ceremonies, with commentary as the boats floated down the Pithlachascotee River at Sims Park.

Following the theme of “Celebrate Your Passion,” the Lehrkes, who live in Odessa, paid tribute to scuba diving to earn best overall boat honors and the $2,500 grand prize.

Their love of scuba diving began in 1978 and grew along with the family. The divers on top of the best boat kicked their way over beautiful coral, tropical fish and a never-ending wonder of beauty beneath the surface.

In the profit of business category, judges gave first place, worth $300, to the Meares Plumbing for the salute to superheroes.

Gulf Coast Boat Sales picked up second place and $125 as the crew demonstrated having fun on a pontoon boat.

Windsong Charters & Boat Rentals took third place and $75 with the theme, “Life is better on a boat,” with fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and island barbecues.

Among schools and nonprofit groups, the Genesis School crew claimed $300 and first place for a boat that illustrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Ponce de Leon. Genesis students made their 32nd appearance at the event.

Rotary Club of Trinity came in second place, good for $125, with a boat decked with Dr. Seuss characters, celebrating the group’s passion for children.

Winning third place and $75, Retired Officer Association Membership dedicated a boat to “The Tiki Life” and their passion for retirement. Former law enforcement officers comprise the group. On board the boat were two former New Port Richey police chiefs, James Bottner and Martin Rickus, and Darryl Garman, a former New Port Richey assistant police chief.

In the private, family and individual category, the Shady Hills Gang floated into first place, worth $300, for a tribute to their community.

The Brewin family placed second for $125 sailing aboard the “Daisy Jayne,” joined by mermaids fresh from the sea.

Al Hansen and the Y Girls claimed third place and $75 for their salute to lottery winners and the good life, “Don’t Live a Little, Live a Lotto!”

Cash prizes and plaques will be presented by the Rotary Club of New Port Richey at noon Wednesday, May 1, at the Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Ave.

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