The Big Cat Poker Run took place in Northern California last week with great success. As a Northern California native now living in Southern California, I always look forward to covering this event as I grew up boating on the Delta and consider it my hometown event.
Normally very hot this time of year, we were blessed with mild days and cool nights, which made for a very pleasant time on the water. Now on its 19thyear, the Big Cat Poker Run winds through the beautiful Northern California Delta, which drains into the San Francisco Bay. This lush farm land makes for an interesting backdrop and provides a unique river-like experience for boaters.
Many of the local hotspots I grew up going to as a kid with my parents – and then later on my own – are now stops on the poker run. But now, instead of ripping up the waterways in a boat, I am chasing them in a helicopter provided by Glenn Hoffman, the lead organizer for the event. Glenn and his family work very hard to produce a high-quality event for The Discovery Bay Lions Club. The Lions Club, in turn, funds a host of local charities and neighborhood organizations with the proceeds that are raised by the poker run – a great example of a community that takes care of its own. Sponsored by Teague Custom Marine, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations over the years, with the whole Teague family participating in the event.
The Poker Run consists of two card stops, first in Pittsburgh, California, Stockton Plaza for lunch, then back to Discovery Bay. A particular favorite on the run for me is Windmill Cove. I have memories there dating back to a toddler. And while not an official card stop for the poker run, it is a favorite for locals to gather and watch the procession of big and little boats make the run, in route to the lunch stop at Stockton Plaza. It has also doubled as a lunch stop for us in the helicopter, as management has allowed us to land in their back field for the last couple of years to wait out the participants returning from the lunch stop.
Big Cat attracts a lot of colorful characters and long-time delta boaters, and every year it seems to attract more and more out-of-towners, as well. This year, the event even attracted the attention of two additional boat builders with Eliminator Boats and Nordic Boats both sending teams to run their latest models. Who can blame them? With the stories of great parties, beautiful boating with lots of room to run, and fun people, its no surprise. After all, as a self-contained community on the water, Discovery Bay is truly a jewel on the Northern California Nile.