What do vape pens, a baseball catcher’s shin guard, an unopened bottle of champagne with the bottom missing and a Monopoly game hotel have in common?
Nothing whatsoever, but they were all among what got picked up by about 300 volunteers at Saturday’s Franklin County portion of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.
These items were just small pounds weighed against the nearly six tons of trash harvested from the county’s coastline, from Alligator Harbor to St. Vincent Island.
The 391 bags collected included housewares, such as a rug, lawn chairs, a vacuum cleaner, and a foam mattress; clothing, including underwear, a tank top, an oyster boot, and diapers; equipment, like a cellphone (turned in to the Visitor Center), propane tanks, a rusted canopy, fire extinguisher, plumbing pressure gauge, shop vac, oyster aquaculture equipment, and a broken Bob’s Barricade; and toys, like Christmas ornaments, a squirt gun, a 5-inch pink mermaid’s tail and a bicycle seat.
Also there was money, a metal spike with concretions, stuff growing on it (possibly from World War II) and an oyster ticket from Louisiana, definitely from 1995.
In a process that organizer Ada Long has refined over several years masterminding the cleanup, trash-pickers are broken down into 15 spots, both in the water, as well as parks, public spaces, dunes, shoreline.
Bald Point State Park got hit hard, with 38 volunteers outweighing everybody with their 40 bags and two tons. Alligator Harbor was a distant runner-up, 30 bags full of 2,300 pounds.
No place was spared the fury of the vengeful crews as they denuded the landscape of its rich patina of scrap metal, plastic, plastic crap, discards from a workplace or what made it a fun spot.
Peaceful and now less spoiled places like Apalachicola’s Abercrombie Landing and Battery Park, Carrabelle Pavilion and Beach, Eastpoint downtown and Millender Park, Lanark Beach, St. George Island both downtown and at the state park, St. Vincent Island, Dog Island, Alligator Harbor and Alligator Point’s John S. Phipps Preserve.
The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab plans to tackle their trash with 30 volunteers on a more suitable date.