Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Cleans Up After Partying Pirates

Volunteers join Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful at cleanup events after Gasparilla Festival.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) in Florida partnered with the City of Tampa to host its annual After Gasparilla Parade cleanup event at four locations along the parade route. The event is aimed at collected the trash – especially beaded necklaces – following the parade festivities.

Over 450 volunteers, including individuals from local businesses and organizations, removed more than 1,700 lbs. of litter, debris, and recyclables, as well as 30,000 strands of beads. Additionally, KTBB volunteer divers from Adventure Outfitters pulled out over 2,000 beads from the Hillsborough River. The collected beads are donated to the MacDonald Training Center, which serves adults with disabilities, for use in various upcycled projects.

“Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful has been coordinating this event for 10 years now and every year, it gets better and better!” said Debbie Evenson, executive director of KTBB. “The result of [the volunteers’] efforts truly shows how much our volunteers love where they live, and we couldn’t do it without them.”

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful said more trash cans were available on the day of the parade than previous years, which led to more trash being put in its correct place.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor launched a campaign in December 2019 called Bead-Free Bay. With anticipation of thousands of visitors to the Gasparilla Parade, the anti-litter awareness campaign reminded people that throwing beads and other litter in the local waterways is prohibited. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is among the groups working in collaboration on this initiative.  

“The fact that our volunteer diving group collected a little over 2,000 beads, many of them old ones, is a testament to Mayor Castor’s Bead Free Bay initiative and the pirate krewes who agreed to only throw beads on land,” said Evenson.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful also distributed free t-shirts to the first 500 volunteers at the event.