Event of the Week: Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Suncoast is about to explode with excitement this weekend as the 30th Annual Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix races come to town. But the boat races are just the icing on the cake. The races aren't until Sunday, but the celebrations are already underway.

The big super boats are now arriving in town and setting up in Centennial Park near the 10th Street boat ramp. The super boat grand prix parties have already begun, with more big celebrations every day.

And all this action makes the Suncoast one of the best places in the country to celebrate the 4th of July.

Thursday night the Festival Parade of Boats will cruise down Sarasota's Main Street. 39 super boats have already registered, along with 37 sponsors boats. "It starts at 7:00…you'll see lots of boats, sponsor boats, floats, there's going to be a pipe band from the city of Sarasota, and we've got the Wells Fargo stagecoach in it," says parade chair Cheryl Smith.

And when the parade ends, the block party begins at the corner of Main and Lemon. "There will be boats parked there after the parade, so they can get up close and even more personal \with them."

Then comes Friday the 4th of July. There'll be fireworks in downtown Sarasota in Bayfront Park starting at 9pm.

“And Saturday is a full day. We have a meet and greet, the drivers event here at the Hyatt beginning 10:30 to noon, where families can bring their children to meet the throttleman and the drivers of the boats up close," says festival chair Lucy Nicandri.

Also Saturday from 11am to 7pm is Powerboats by the Bay in the Van Wezel parking lot. "It's free admission. We are going to have live bands, vendors, great food, and you can see all the boats on display. At 3 o'clock we have our Miss Super Boat Grand Prix bikini contest. You don't want to miss that."

And also Saturday morning is a motorcycle freedom ride. "Which is going to go out to the new Patriot Plaza in honor of our vets, and then all the boats will end up at Powerboats by the Bay."

And on Sunday, of course, the big races off Lido Beach. Former Wellcraft employee Gus Anastasi, who has been involved in the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix races since the beginning and has raced in many of them, says the boats have gotten faster over the years, and this year there's some very fast ones. "We have boats running 200 miles an hour plus."

You can see them off Siesta Key Beach or Lido Beach. "We've got a race that's going to be at 11, and another one at 1, followed by the awards ceremony at 5pm. Back here at the Hyatt you can cheer for your winning teams.at the award ceremony."