ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) - Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon announced Tuesday, April 9, Thunder on the Gulf will return to Orange Beach the weekend of May 31-June 2.
The event has been canceled since 2011, however, Kennon said thanks to BP grant money the Gulf Coast can enjoy one of the Gulf's biggest events once again.
"This year, British Petroleum had about $8 or $10 million they were giving out in grant money to different organizations," said Kennon.
Mayor Kennon is thrilled at the many different ways to enjoy this year's event. He said The Wharf, Turquoise Place, Cobalt and other venues in the area will give every fan the ultimate experience.
"It's a great weekend for folks who like things that go fast. In the summer, it's always a great turnout because you can be in a condo and cookout. It's just a great weekend. We have all the boats show up on display. I'm excited because I'm a racing nut so I like anything that goes fast. So, I'm excited," said Kennon.
Co-owner of Live Bait and founder of Thunder on the Gulf Gary Nichols said location is key.
"I knew the best place, with the most spectator possibility to see a great show would be Orange Beach," Nichols said.
The economic impact could be as impressive as the boats themselves.
"We've heard as many as 100,000 or more people come to the race. The economic impact averages between $3.5-$4.5 million Thunder in the Gulf weekend," said Nichols.
Officials said the entrance to the event is free.
"It's a family event. It's exciting to see so many people have so much fun for very little cost," Nichols said.
The total cost of the event is around $200,000. Nichols said about 10 percent of that money from sponsors goes back into the community and to charities like St. Jude's.
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