FLAGLER, ST. JOHNS, Florida (September 17, 2023) – Several hundred volunteers headed to the coast on Saturday for the annual International Coastal Cleanup along the A1A Scenic Byway.
Organized by the Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Byway, the global cleanup brings together community service organizations and residents from across Flagler and St. Johns counties to work on sprucing up the local beaches and waterways.
Greeted by Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hansen and Friends of A1A’s Elayne Byrd, more than two dozen employees and family members from Boston Whaler fanned out throughout the Hammock area tackling beach access points alongside residents and volunteers recruited by Flagler Volunteer Services.
Local residents Kevin Doyle, wife Gwen and daughter Hayesley took part in their first International Coastal Cleanup, documenting the moments together, and hopefully creating a love of the Earth for their daughter.
“We filled up 2 full bags at Washington Oaks,” shared Doyle proudly. “It was fun and eye opening too.”
The cleanup brings together leading community organizations, and at the Marineland check in, the GTM NERR teamed up with the Town of Marineland, the UF Whitney Lab, FDEP, Flagler County, the Marineland Dolphin Adventure, Ragga Surf, and Friends of A1A to welcome volunteers.
Girl Scouts from Troop 2413 didn’t see the 1,100 pounds of waterway trash they found at the previous week’s cleanup with the City of Palm Coast but ended up with some unexpected debris nonetheless at the River to Sea Preserve.
“Marineland is generally a very clean beach in my opinion,” said Girl Scouts Troop co-leader Bill Whitney.
“As far as garbage, I could not tell you pounds, but we did remove a lot of lumber probably from storms, that I really did not consider. We just stacked garbage up along the pier at the garbage cans. I helped someone from Marineland and kids get what appeared to be like a kiddie pool out near turtle nest area.”
Their mission to help the community is clear. They didn’t expect a reward for their efforts and were surprised with free entry to the Marineland Dolphin Adventure for their morning’s work.
“We leave everything cleaner than we arrived,” said Whitney, modestly. “We purposely hope our community does the same. We proudly share our green to share our commitment to others, and we are open to most challenges. Marineland was a perk, however, not requested.”
Town of Marineland Mayor Angela TenBroeck spoke with Spectrum News before heading out with friends and fellow town commissioner Gary Inks to clean up the preserve.
Also on duty was Flagler Beach Mayor Suzie Johnston, leading as team captain in Flagler Beach alongside Friends of A1A Vice President and Flagler Beach City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur. Moving the Flagler Beach All-Stars’ first Saturday cleanup to the International Coastal Cleanup helped attract more volunteers to the busy location, while others lent a hand at Gamble Rogers State Park.
In St. Johns County, Rotary District 6970 helped head up the efforts in Crescent Beach. Rotarian and Hastings MainStreet Executive Director Sallie O’Hara and Friends of A1A’s Anne Streater welcomed youth volunteer teams and residents, logging 45 volunteers.
Just to the north, SABCA and Friends of A1A’s Bob Samuels along with Friends of Anastasia State Park and A1A’s Maureen Long welcomed nearly two dozen enthusiastic volunteers to the St. Augustine Beach Pier area, including retired tourism chief Richard Goldman.
Sol Margin Fishing’s Sam and Ginger Baker took the lead in Vilano Beach while Friends of A1A board member Nicole Crosby welcomed volunteers to Mickler’s Beach.
“As you can see, it’s a full court press every year along the A1A Scenic Byway to ensure we’re doing our part to keep Florida’s beaches and waterways beautiful,” said Friends of A1A President Bill McClure.
“Working to coordinate the staffing of locations with volunteers and helping to manage the resources through almost 20 years of participation in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, we appreciate the continued collaboration between all of the organizations to make this day a success.”
Any participants from the International Coastal Cleanup are eligible to enter the 2nd Annual Trash to Treasure Contest with a photo of their entry due by September 30, 2023 via email to Danielle_anderson@scenica1a.org. The winner will be announced on October 6, 2023 at the Flagler Beach First Friday event.
For contest rules, visit www.A1ABeachCleanup.org.