I’ve pretty much been a loner all my life. Don’t really know why, it just seems to be my basic nature. Every day but Big Shell Beach Cleanup day, that is, for on beach cleanup day I become a real people person. It would be impossible not to be when I see all the wonderful volunteers selflessly giving up a Saturday and spending the day in conditions that typically vary from bad to horrible picking up trash from the beach and returning the beach to its natural pristine condition. Any number bring their children with them; leading by example and explaining to them the importance of keeping the great outdoors clean and healthy. We had more kids involved in the event this year than ever before. We didn’t keep a count of them but I’ll bet there were a minimum of 100 present.
All conditions were ideal; driving was great except for one dicey spot, weather, tides and temperatures all fell into line to make for that day you always hope for but never expect to actually get. Kinda’ scary. I kept thinking “this has got to be an ambush.” The board members of the Friends of Padre had set the parking lot up Friday afternoon and as volunteers arrived there was very little confusion and row after row of vehicles slid smoothly into pre-departure position. Although officially the event began at 8:00 a. m. we already had one full section headed down the beach before 8 a.m. Mr. Tony Alcoser of Ainsworth Trucking Co. left the Malaquite parking lot at 05:30 a. m. to ensure their rollagon and trailers would be in place when volunteers started picking up trash. The rollagon is slow moving and this additional time was required to guarantee they would be on location by 8 a. m. Big hats off to Tony for going above and beyond to make this event a success.
David Ainsworth Trucking Co. also provided water and ice chests for the entire event. Each section consisted of 35 people and was responsible for cleaning one predetermined mile of beach. If time was available after they completed their mile they proceeded north and helped other sections finish their areas and everyone continued to the North working sections of beach until 12 noon. We started at the 30 mile marker and worked north. The beach was cleaned up for 18 miles: from the 12 to the 30 mile. Those 18 miles beats the existing record by 4 miles. We had a total of 700 volunteers, beating the all time record of 540 people by a whopping 160 people. We picked up a total of 60 tons of trash. That’s not nearly a record but it is indicative of the fact that there was less trash in the area to pick up than in previous years. Unusually high winter tides covered some of the trash this winter but it still shows we are making good progress.
Being notably somewhat crusty I made a very determined attempt to greet and meet everyone I could. A couple of things that thrilled me as I walked through the crowds at the conclusion of the event was that over and over I kept hearing people talking about what they were going to do at NEXT year’s event. And how many people I heard talking about how they picked up trash ever time the go down the beach. Some go for no other reason than to enjoy this wondrous place and pick up trash. There were quite a few volunteers present that I had not seen during the past few events and it was like “old home” week. During the 1st. Big Shell Beach Cleanup Roland Hyatt, owner of “Woodstock Tree Surgeons” and his crew had spent Friday night camped at the 25 mile beach and started cleaning to the south in the morning. As we talked this year, Roland said, “See that man right there. He’s my son and was one year old the night we camped at the 25 mile. Wow? Am I old or what?
Mr. Lindsey Shows and Arnold Reagan had 33 people from CITGO in their group. Much appreciated guys.
Tuloso Midway had many students including their Navy Jr. ROTC group. Daniel Dain of Domino’s Pizza and the Corpus Christi Chapter of CCA fed everybody. Michael Laskowski Sr. and Jr. of Trac-work Inc. Railroad Maintenance of San Antonio furnished gloves for the volunteers. Scott and Brian McKinsey did a great job as our repair/rescue truck. PINS personnel furnished EMT personnel and did an awesome all around job and we appreciate it and them. We gained 3 new sponsors this year and are very grateful for them. They are the Texas State Aquarium, Value Bank and Security Service Federal Credit Union. We remain deeply grateful to the Ruth Parr Sparks Foundation and Mr. Leon McNinch, Sharkathon and Curtis Mai, Graf Plumbing Inc, HEB, Federal Steel, Spoon’r Lure Co., Inc. Coastal Bend Audubon Society, Steven and Donna Gregory and Ben Beaty. Without getting the word out this event would never happen and we are extremely appreciative to David Sikes and the Caller Times, Everett and Pam Johnson of Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, the Salty Angler and KKTX News Radio.
So now we have had 6,600 volunteers remove 2,456,000 pounds of trash from the beaches of the Padre Island National Seashore. We don’t do this event for personal recognition or praise. We do it for ourselves and for you and for your children and future generations of children yet to come. Next event will be the last Saturday of February, 2017. Billy