Large turnout for post-July 4th cleanup on Jacksonville Beach

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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – The morning after the Fourth of July festivities is cleanup time.

Groups of volunteers from the Girl Scouts, JEA and the University of North Florida women's basketball team all arrived by 7 a.m. Thursday at Jacksonville Beach to help clean up the mess left behind by holiday partygoers.

“Actually it felt great. This is our first time doing a community event. To bond like that was really empowering for us," said Ari Emanuel-Wright, with the UNF basketball team.

At one point, about 200 people were cleaning up trash along the three different beach locations. The Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol, which organizes the event, said there were so many volunteers that they ran out of trash bags.

The event began in the mid-1980s and has become something of a tradition. It isn't just about cleaning up trash left behind on the beach, it's also about protecting and saving wildlife.

It’s frustrating to see for people like Eduardo Ganga.

"This is a beach for everybody to use. Everybody comes through here, they drink -- dropping cans everywhere. Not picking up trash," Ganga said.

Plastic and paper aren't just harmful to the beach, it can also get into our ocean and be deadly for some of our most vulnerable residents.

According to the Turtle Patrol, nesting season started in May and goes through the end of October. Signs are posted to make people aware.

One woman brought her daughters and their friends to the cleanup.

"It’s important that we teach all of our young people that we live here. This is our community. If everybody does a little bit, it makes it very helpful," Erika Wallace said.

What makes it so dangerous for animals is that they can mistake even a little bit of litter for food.

It’s a reminder all year round, not just during holidays like the Fourth of July.

Trash cans are located at all beach entrances for your convenience.

St. Johns County beaches

Keepers of the Coast is hosting the 9th Annual July 5 "The Day After" Beach Cleanup in St. Johns County. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Various beach access points are included in the cleanup. For more information, visit the 9th Annual July 5th "The Day After" Beach Cleanup Facebook page.

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