Tires, carts, batteries and more

Published 6:55 pm Saturday, June 3, 2017

Best turnout ever for Clean the Bay Day

More than 200 people spread out around the city on Saturday morning to clean up a scattering of sites during the area’s annual Clean the Bay Day.

Volunteers from a variety of agencies and organizations, along with many individuals, took part in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 29th annual cleanup event, piling up garbage and debris collected from parks, trails, marshes and the Nansemond River.

Among the debris collected in Suffolk, according to Suffolk Litter Control Coordinator Wayne Jones, who organized the event locally, were more than 40 tires, several shopping carts, car batteries and bags and bags of other trash.

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According to John Surrick of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the most common items found by the 6,000 volunteers at 250 sites around the state were plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

In an email, Surrick stated there were plenty of other, more unusual finds, as well: “Participants also found many strange items including a rusted out car, dishwasher and stove, a complete bed frame, several shopping carts, 40 cucumbers, a whole coconut, a mannequin head, a headless Barbie doll, an old cash register, a computer, a full gas can, multiple car batteries, a weed-eater, contact lenses in a case, a vintage pepper shaker, and a full bushel of crabs (no longer among the living).”

Jones said this year’s Clean the Bay Day attracted the most participation in Suffolk ever, and he hopes the city can continue to build on the success.

“I want to give a big thank you to (the volunteers) for making this the most successful one yet,” he said. “And I want to give a special thank you to the Suffolk Police and Suffolk Fire and Rescue.”

The police department and fire and rescue sent volunteers to help with the cleanup and helped ensure the safety of participants, he said. The police department also contributed a boat to help with the river cleanup effort. Others brought along kayaks, a skiff and a canoe to help on the Nansemond.

Suffolk Boy Scots, the city’s parks and recreation department, the Izaak Walton League, the Nansemond River Power Squadron and others were among the organizations that turned out to help.

The city’s parks were the rally points for volunteers, but Jones said individuals and groups moved into various parts of the city from there.

“The parks were merely meeting places,” he said. “My real goal is to keep getting more kayakers on the rivers to help.”

“It is wonderful to see so many thousands of people from across Virginia come together to do their part for our waterways,” CBF Clean the Bay Day Coordinator Tanner Council stated in a press release. “With everyone working together, in just a few hours we’ve put a massive dent in Virginia’s litter problem.”

CBF officials estimated that volunteers had removed approximately 100,000 pounds of litter and debris from some 450 miles of shoreline around the state during the three-hour effort.

Since the program began in 1989, about 152,000 volunteers have removed more than 6.4 million pounds of debris from more than 7,390 miles of shoreline during the Clean the Bay Day events, officials said.