Suffolk gears up to “Clean the Bay”

Published 8:28 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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The 34th annual Clean the Bay Day returns Saturday, June 3 at locations around the city to remove litter that is in local waterways or making its way there.

Keep Suffolk Beautiful and the Suffolk Public Works Department are gearing up the groups and individuals who turnout for the event that runs from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 3. 

The land and water based cleanup is set for three Nansemond River locations: 

  • Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina, 100 E. Constance Rd. 
  • Lake Prince Boat Ramp, 4324, Lake Prince Dr. 
  • Sleepy Hole Park, 4616 Sleepy Hole Rd., Shelter 8, near the kayak launch.

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Litter Control Coordinator Daniel McDonald explained how the cleanup works.

“Basically what people can expect is a public clean up where Keep Suffolk Beautiful supplies all equipment such as litter grabbers, reflective vests, bags and gloves,” McDonald said. “It is a land-based and water-based clean up which means if you have a kayak or canoe, it’s extremely helpful.”

Those tackling litter from the land are important, he explained.

“A lot of people don’t have boats and we like to get the trash before it gets in the water,” McDonald said. “It’s a multi pronged effort and we try to make it as easy as possible for people to just show and participate.”

The Sleepy Hole Park location is a new addition to this year’s Clean the Bay Day. He explained this extra location will help his team assess how much trash they get from specific locations to ensure everyone’s efforts put to the best use.

McDonald said that volunteer coordinator Jason Pittman suggested Sleepy Hole.

“With all these locations, we try to have land and water access just to make it fun and easy for everyone to participate,” McDonald said. “When I get large groups of people, especially groups with kids looking for a more kid-friendly experience, it’s nice to have an alternate option such as a park to go [to]. It’s much more family-friendly.”

He explained that keeping the public engaged in the cleanup events helps to get the word out on preventing litter.

“We also have families and singular volunteers and groups that regularly come out to these events, on a yearly basis almost,” McDonald said. “We also like to involve other city entities, such as the Suffolk Fire Department, which comes out and lends a hand. The Suffolk Police Department also comes out and lends a hand.”

He noted that the Parks and Recreation Department also lends a hand with the clean up.

“When you kind of expand your net like that and you regularly converse and hold multiple events with the public, it’s just easier to keep people more informed and engaged,” McDonald said.

To help local residents avoid creating unintended pollution, he offered some general knowledge for people throwing out their trash.

“I like to remind people that most trash, whether it’s thrown away in a neighborhood or outside your car, generally finds itself into low ground, which is more common than not, water,” McDonald said. “A lot of our waterways lead to the Nansemond River, which leads to the Chesapeake Bay.”

Interest in keeping Suffolk clean is growing, McDonald said noting that participation has almost doubled in the past year or two.

“We’ve noticed the trajectory of more people helping out and more adopt groups stepping up and more organizations stepping up,” he said. “It’s just encouraging to see everybody chipping in and seeing more bags of litter picked up, more tires pulled out of the river, etc.”

For those interested in joining the June 3 clean up, McDonald encouraged people to register at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation webpage, but noted this is not required.

All ages can participate, but he said those under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“If you haven’t registered and you just feel like showing up the day of, show up at Constant Wharf, show up at the Lake Prince Boat Ramp or show up at Sleepy Hole Park – we’re meeting at the kayak launch – and just participate,” McDonald said. “We have all the equipment there and we want to make it as easy as possible. That way if someone can come on a whim they can.” 

For more information, go to or 

For registration, go to, or call 757-514-7604.