Final Great Dock Canoe Race

Posted at 10:46 PM, May 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 22:46:57-04

NAPLES, Fla. -- Naples residents enjoyed the 40th and possibly last Great Dock Canoe race, hosted by the Dock Restaurant at Crayton Cove, Saturday.

The 2016 race featured canoes decked out in disco gear, to match their theme "The Last Dance," because it will be the last race hosted by the famous restaurant. Owners said the theme reflects on the time when they first started the event in the 70s. Families told Fox 4 the race is a beloved tradition. "It's always a nice activity we enjoyed over the years from the time she was a toddler until now," said an attendee. "Now, she's standing right next to me and she's 30 years old.

Canoers participating ranged from extremely skilled, to beginner. "I've been in a canoe maybe once when I was six," said competitor Ryan, who took sixth place.

Vin DePasquale, owner of The Dock, has seen hundreds of thousands of spectators come out for the event over the years. However, this is the last year he and his wife Debbie will be hosting it. He described the feeling as bitter-sweet. "After 40 years of fun and support from the community, I think it's time for us to take a step back and see if we can get some fresh energy," he said. "It's really exciting to be a part of it, an yeah, it's a little hard to let go, but we feel like we're ending on a high note," Debbie DePasquale added.

DePasquale said he is hopeful that someone else will pick up the event and he would love to support them. Canoe racers echoed their hopes that the tradition would remain 'staying alive!' "It's a great thing, it's a tradition we'd love to see the city perhaps continue. You never know," said competitor Patrick White, who took seventh.

This year's proceeds will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.