Saturday’s strong winds and brisk early-morning temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of local residents from gathering at Mickler’s Landing for a community beach cleanup.
Organized by the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach in partnership with the nonprofit Beaches Go Green, the volunteer effort saw everyone from young children and local high school students to senior citizens fan out across the beach to collect cigarette butts, debris and other litter.
“We wanted to do an event for the ‘Family of Rotary,’” said Rotarian Marc Savy, noting that the international service organization sponsors EarlyAct programs in local elementary schools as well as high school Interact programs and a Rotaract Club for young professionals. “The (Ponte Vedra Beach) Rotary regularly cleans up A1A, but obviously that wasn’t a safe option for young children. We wanted to organize an event in an environment where everyone from the youngest kids to the adults could participate.”
Savy reached out to Beaches Go Green, which enthusiastically got on board with the event. The organization provided hundreds of collection buckets and gloves, while local restaurant Trasca & Co. Eatery provided coffee, cocoa and post-cleanup pasta for the legion of volunteers.
“It’s really awesome to see so many organizations and businesses come together for an event like this,” Beaches Go Green Executive Director Taryn Montgomery said. “It shows that people care and really want to get involved and help the environment.”
Bob Davenport was among the volunteers present. Also known as “Bucket Bob,” Davenport regularly patrols Mickler’s Landing, collecting thousands of cigarette butts, trash, clothing, towels and other items left behind by beach goers. After the recent Valentine’s Day holiday, he said, the beach was littered with deflated mylar balloons, which can choke and suffocate birds and turtles.
“Not all balloons go to heaven,” Davenport quipped. “They come back as trash; instead of letting balloons go, how about planting a tree?”
Still, Davenport said he was pleased to see the strong turnout for Saturday’s cleanup.
“It’s good to see more people out here participating,” he said. “It would be great if it could be done more regularly.”