Everyone is getting ready to celebrate with the 2023 Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest this month, with hundreds of thousands expected to participate. However, it’s also a time with tons of tossed beads and other festive leftovers all over the area, so Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) is holding a cleanup soon after. If you’d like to help, you can join in on Sunday, January 29 at the After Gasparilla Cleanup.
Last year, about 50,000 beads were picked up at the cleanup’s three sites thanks to the help of almost 350 volunteers, according to Debbie Evenson, executive director of Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. Over 100 people had already signed up before 2023 for this month’s After Gasparilla Cleanup.
“We had a whole truck full of them in fact, and then what we do with them is that we’ll donate them to the MacDonald Training Center, and they clean them, and then they fix them, and they resell them,” Evenson said about the collected beads. “So it’s a win-win; we’re … getting trash out of the streets and we’re giving back to another nonprofit.”
Of course, beads and garbage aren’t the only things littering the area, as volunteers have picked up wallets, purses, keys and 12-packs of Coke, to name a few things oddly thrown about. Personal effects will be turned into the city’s lost and found for Gasparilla.
There will be four locations in need of volunteers, which are: Bank of America at 249 S. Hyde Park Ave. in Tampa, Kate Jackson Recreation Center at 821 S. Rome Ave. in Tampa, Bern’s Park at 1400 S. Howard Ave. in Tampa and Fred Ball Park at 2629 Rubideaux St. in Tampa. Each site has staggered check-in times starting at 7:30 a.m. Volunteers are required to wear closed-toed shoes to avoid injuring their feet on any debris, and it’s recommended to bring a reusable water bottle, sunscreen, a sun hat and sunglasses.
Chick-fil-A will also be giving away thank-you gift cards to volunteers. Plus, on its Eventbrite page, while free to participate, you can purchase a $5 ticket and receive a special T-shirt for helping KTBB’s cause.
“Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do what we do. They are the heart of the organization,” said Everson.
For the After Gasparilla Cleanup’s Eventbrite page, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/after-gasparilla-cleanup-tickets-476668166317. To learn more about KTBB, visit www.keeptampabaybeautiful.org.