Cleaning up holiday trash in Holmes Beach

Fourth of July beach cleanup
Students from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School along with cross-country coach Wendy Kovich pitch in July 5 to help clean up Island beaches. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH — Revelers may have left a lot of trash on Island beaches following the July 4 holiday, but it’s disappearing thanks to a few dedicated volunteers.

About two dozen people came out the morning of July 5 to help rid the beach of trash and other debris left after the long holiday weekend.

The clean-up, organized by the Code Enforcement Department, kicked off with volunteers from Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring taking to the beach with trash bags to clean up during their early morning patrols. Code Enforcement Officers James Thomas and Nate Brown set up a supply station near the 52nd Street beach access where volunteers could pick up cold drinks, trash bags, volunteer T-shirts and other supplies.

Give-away items and supplies for the event were provided by the city, Waste Pro and Keep Manatee Beautiful.

Volunteers picked up trash and debris for several hours, which was collected by Waste Pro and Holmes Beach Public Works employees. Among the volunteers who took to the sand were a group of cross-country runners from St. Stephen’s Episcopal School.

Cross-Country Coach Wendy Kovich, a Holmes Beach resident, said she’d like to create a group of students to regularly help clean up the beaches and volunteer with AMITW.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman, who helped collect trash along with residents Kim and Theresa Rash, said he was happy with the camaraderie among volunteers.

“It was fun,” he said of the clean-up.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer said the movement to help keep the beaches and beach ends clean was a combined effort by city public works employees, Waste Pro and city law enforcement.

Waste Pro agreed to make additional trash pick-ups at beach ends, also providing larger or additional collection containers over the holiday weekend. Additionally, public works employees provided additional debris collections at beach ends.

Tokajer said he felt beachgoers were “very responsible” in removing their trash and other debris when leaving the beach.

“This is the cleanest day after a holiday on the beach I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Everybody’s a winner here.”