Advertisement
  1. Archive

LABOR OF LOVE MORE WORK THAN HE EXPECTED

Gulfport's mayor named his boat for his late wife. That was the easy part.

It has been a year since Mayor Mike Yakes lost his wife, Darlene, to cancer.

That means it has been a year that he has been thinking about how to honor one of her last wishes.

Three days before she died, she told her husband of 29 years that he should either get their pontoon boat in working order and start using it or he should sell it.

It seems the pontoon boat she bought for him in 2003 - because he desperately wanted it - was as much of a passing fancy as a child's Christmas toy.

But Yakes never forgot her dying wish about the 18-foot boat, which they kept at their weekend getaway, a trailer on a lake in Floral City, about 80 miles north in Citrus County.

So, on Labor Day weekend, to mark a year since her passing, Yakes invited friends and family members to the lake. He had decided he would not only keep the boat, but he would also name it after his beloved wife.

He planned to christen it the SS Darlene Jackpot because Darlene loved to play the slot machines.

As 30 children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends watched, Yakes climbed in the boat and tried to start it. All it did was sputter. No worries; folks were gathered there for the christening, not a boat ride.

So he positioned the boat and took out the bottle of champagne - thoughtfully wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent shattered glass from entering the lake.

All eyes were on the mayor as he reeled back and whacked the rail of the boat with the bagged bottle.

It didn't break.

He did it again and again, whacking and clubbing the boat's rail.

Still the bottle didn't break.

So he reconsidered, checking the boat for a better place to bash.

He reached down and smashed it into a ridge along the side of the boat. The bottle remained intact.

Finally, he gave in - the way he likely gave in to Darlene when she was alive - and stopped trying to break the bottle. Instead, he popped the cork and spilled it over the boat, christening it the SS Darlene Jackpot.

"It was like Darlene was there," Yakes said. "It was just like her to say, 'Don't go making a big deal out of me.'"

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement