Volunteers clean beach of Independence Day debris

Annual event designed to keep beaches free of used fireworks, litter

By Roxy Tyler - Web producer, Jennifer Ready - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Dozens of volunteers scoured the beaches Friday to clean-up trash and debris left behind from Fourth of July celebrations.

The annual July 5th cleanup took place in Jacksonville Beach from 8 until 10 a.m.

Volunteers like Sydney Stelly spent the morning removing litter and debris along the shoreline to enhance the beauty and safety of Jacksonville's beaches.

“I’ve picked up a lot of cigarette butts already,” Stelly said. “You would think that people who enjoy the beach would clean up after themselves and take care of the beach that they love so much but they leave a lot of the stuff that they’ve been using which is kind of sad.” 

Last year, hundreds of volunteers helped, including the UNF women’s basketball team.

“It’s important for us to be a part of the community. We try to volunteer throughout the year and this seemed like a great post 4th of July activity to come to get the beaches clean so that our visitors and residents can enjoy it,” Karen Anders, another volunteer, said. 

They found everything from food wrappers to clothing and even tents.

“It’s shocking to see the trash left behind. Everyone came out to celebrate the history of freedom for our country here by trashing the beach. It’s just disgraceful,” said Mary Mills, a volunteer with the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol. “It really brings you to tears to really think that people are so thoughtless, it’s just heartbreaking but then there’s always hope when you see all the people that come out.”

The City of Jacksonville and Keep Jacksonville Beautiful partnered with the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol for the annual cleanup. 

Before 10 a.m., crews and volunteers filled a truck with roughly three and a half tons of trash.

The clean-up also benefits the sea turtles and other animals. FWC says animals will sometimes mistake trash for food and eating it can be deadly.

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