Poker Run first stop will be Gilberts, and last stop will be Boondocks. The top 10 hands will play a final Texas Hold’em game on Sunday at Gilberts at 4 pm in between sets of local band Mr. Nice Guy for the $5,000 cash prize. The Phil Peterson’s Florida Keys Poker Run is actually the 45th Florida Keys Poker Run as last year’s official event was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and thus a lack of manpower. The un-official “No Poker Run, Poker Run” was cancelled for the same reason. You may be wondering why Phil Peterson’s Poker Run is not ending in Key West, where it traditionally finished every year.
Phil Peterson started his Harley Business in Key West, 1954. Unfortunately, at the Poker Run of 2016 there was a bar fight at 4 am. It was caught on camera and aired on TV. This is not good publicity for any city or organization. Also a contributing factor, the high cost of the event being held in Key West ($30,000.00 in costs associated with closing down Duval Street for two days). The Key West Rotary decided (by vote) that it was too much work for too little payout and that they were no longer going to host this event. So much goes in to hosting the Poker Run in Key West including: getting a permit from the City of Key West to close Duval Street with Police officers, barricades , trash and recycling cans, and an ambulance on hand. Hundreds of hours in volunteer manpower is donated by Rotary Clubs from up and down the Keys. The streets are closed for vending , bike parking and a bike Show all of which take a lot of volunteer manpower. The person representing the organization responsible for the street closure must sign a personal release and indemnification that states if anything happens on Duval Street for those 48 hours, they are responsible. That is a lot of responsibility both personal and financially as a person or organization can be sued by an individual for any amount of money, but a city in the State of Florida can only be sued for one hundred thousand dollars per occurrence. At that time last year, the City of Key West did not want to take the risk even though the Poker Run brings millions of dollars in tourist spending, other revenue and subsequent taxes to the city.
Going forward, Key West will be hard pressed to find any organization willing to do the work necessary to hold a festival on the streets of Key West ever again. The moral of this story is that Phil Peterson’s Florida Keys Poker Run will live on and will rumble up and down the Florida Keys raising money for all of the local Rotary Clubs. Where people stay or party will be up to the individuals. In the end, bikers will have a great ride and a fun time, all the while helping Rotary organizations across the Keys raise college scholarship money for local students. #petersonsharley #miamiharley