A last-second donation of $200 pushed the Krewe of Diversion’s 24th Annual Mardi Gras Boat parade to nearly $52,500, said organizer David Stevens.

All proceeds — raised from boat entries, donations, a silent auction, food sales and t-shirt sales — will go toward St. Jude Children’s Hospital through Louisiana Friends Against Childhood Cancer (LFACC).

LFACC also raises money for St. Jude through a mini pot cookoff, a poker run, a garfish rodeo and a fish fry. Last year’s boat parade brought in almost $62,500. Stevens said LFACC has raised more than $1 million for St. Jude “over the last 20-something years.”

Though there were only 13 boats in the parade on Saturday, Feb 3. — something Stevens attributed to the rainy weather — those boats raised $13,000 alone. Part of that came from the entry fee of $35, but the majority comes from the parade itself.

Prior to launching, each boat is given a number and a milk jug, which they use to pass out throws such as beads, cups, koozies or stuffed animals in exchange for donations from parade goers on the pier.

Stevens said one boat collected more than $2,700, two others more than $2,000 apiece and eight more than $1,000.

The parade started at the Canal Bank Club, where Interstate 22 crosses over the Diversion Canal, and went north on the Diversion Canal before turning south on the Amite River. It ended at Manny’s Bar in Maurepas.

Steven said another money generator — the silent auction — raised more than $31,000.

“It’s crazy, but we know it’s going to a good cause,” Stevens said.

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