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Here's how you can help clean up after Gasparilla

As pirates invade for Gasparilla, tons of trash and beads are left behind. City crews clean up, but volunteers pick up the rest — and they need your help

TAMPA, Fla. — As Gasparilla festivities kick off this weekend in Tampa with the children’s parade, it marks the beginning of a huge event in the city. It also means lots and lots of trash.

Gasparilla is the 3rd largest parade in the world.

With thousands gathered on Bayshore Boulevard, there are tons of trash — literally tons of beads and much more that must be picked up to make sure all of that doesn’t pollute the bay and our neighborhoods.

You can help.

Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful organizes the largest cleanup effort after Gasparilla. They have roughly 400 volunteers already ready to help and they need more.

“There’s so much trash. Whether it’s cardboard or water bottles or beer bottles or Coca-Cola bottles, people are drinking and they’re eating and not everything goes into the trash cans,” said Debbie Evenson with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

“There’s so many spectators at one time that the trash is just overflowing at the time.”

The cleanup is after the big invasion and the Gasparilla parade held on Jan. 29. On the morning of Jan. 30, volunteers will spread out across the area to pick up trash and beads. 

They also have a dive team that will go into the waters of the Hillsborough Bay to pull out beads and protect marine life.

The city of Tampa’s solid waste division is also critical in this. In 2020, they collected more than 82,000 pounds of trash and beads, with 4,000 pounds able to be recycled.

Solid Waste is considered the final float of each parade. They’re right behind ready to sweep up Bayshore, pick up trash and beads and make sure that Bayshore Boulevard quickly reopens to traffic.

While Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful’s big Gasparilla cleanup is on the 30th, you can volunteer to help the Sunday after the children’s parade or anytime!

They say don’t do that alone, reach out to them.

She says even though Sundays are quieter along Bayshore, safety is a priority and you should not go into the median or onto the roadways. She says stay along the sidewalks.

“We want safety first and then if you see a lot on one side and you can’t get to it, let us know and we’ll make sure that we get someone that is responsible that can go over there and get that cleaned up at that time,” she said.

The group will also help you with supplies and what you need to stay safe with traffic and how to properly clean up to keep Bayshore Boulevard beautiful.

“It’s really nice to be able to teach the younger ones this is what we’re doing to give back in our community, but it also is cleaning up,” she said.

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