DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — A tiki party on the harbor Saturday raised more than $6,400 for a local autism non-profit. Cruisin’ Tiki’s Destin hosted the business’s 5th-anniversary party at the Edge Seafood and Skybar.

Hailey and Ian Blaise brought the concept to Destin in 2017.

Hailey and Ian Blaise, Owners of Cruisin’ Tiki’s Destin

“We came here just kind of on a whim and just thought it would be a really great thing to bring here,” said Hailey. “I mean it’s a no-brainer. They’re the cutest little tiki boats ever so and you know, when we came here I didn’t know anybody here and just kind of started everything up and so it’s really a big deal to us because we’ve made it to five years.”

The tiki-boats are circle floating structures that tour the Destin harbor and local waterways. Each boat can hold up to 6 passengers with USCG-certified captains on board.

$3,242 in entry donations to the anniversary party were given to the Emerald Coast Autism Center in Niceville. The Dugas Family Foundation is matching the donations for the $6,484 total.

“We are completely honored to be named as a beneficiary. It was not an expected thing at all,” said Staci Berryman, Executive director of ECAC.

Berryman said the money helps fund their biggest project to date, a new facility to help bring people with autism into the workforce. “We are just breaking ground on a second facility. A 20,000-square-foot center which is an educational facility with eight classrooms and a state-of-the-art Vocational Center. So we can start training teens and young adults.”

Hailey said the fleet is at seven boats with an eighth tiki hut making its way to Destin this month. Safety information and pricing can be found on the website.

“I guess one of the slogans is putting smiles on people’s faces one cruise at a time,” said Hailey. “You know, it’s just it’s a good time, no worries and it’s just fun.”

Cruisin’ Tiki’s Destin at Sunset

More about the Emerald Coast Autism Center:

Emerald Coast Autism Center (ECAC) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating and improving the lives of individuals with autism in Okaloosa and Walton counties and surrounding areas. ECAC is unique in our approach to teaching these amazing children. All instruction and activities at the ECAC are conducted in a manner consistent with the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The science of ABA is currently the only proven intervention for children with autism. Specifically, ECAC follows the Verbal Behavior (VB) approach to ABA, based on B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior.

Emeralds Coast Autism Center Mission Statement