GALVESTON — When the Fourth of July celebration is over and the expected crowd of up to 400,000 goes back to its homes and hotels, the beaches won’t be empty.
Tons of cans, caps, cups, containers, cigarette butts, diapers, plastic wrap, clothing and even forbidden glass will litter the shoreline in a tsunami of junk.
That’s why the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation, along with the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees, is calling for beach-friendly people to gather at 9 a.m. Saturday to be part of a massive community cleanup crew.
Volunteers will rendezvous on the seawall near the 37th Street jetty. Children are welcome.
“Just show up,” Janese Maricelli of Surfrider said. “We’ll provide buckets, gloves and inspiration.”
Surfrider will also offer a prize for the most unusual piece of garbage discovered in the morning cleanup.
“People find unexpected items — like a Barbie head — and we thought it would make the cleanup more interesting if there was a friendly competition for random oddities,” she said.
Park Board cleaning crews will hand-pick the larger pieces of garbage. Volunteers will be encouraged to gather smaller litter in designated areas.
Smaller litter can be especially damaging to wildlife, Maricelli said.
“Plastic bags look like jellyfish, which turtles eat, and gulls and other seabirds can die from ingesting cigarette butts and plastic bottle caps,” she said.
For its part, the Park’s Board is more than doubling the regular beach maintenance crew from 11 to 25 people for the holiday weekend.
They won’t wait for the morning light. Crews will hit the beach about 4 a.m., Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said.
They will focus on cleaning up debris from the fireworks presentation, she said.
Sadly, there will be plenty of garbage left for volunteers to collect, she said.
“I wonder about the consciousness of people who leave all this trash on a public beach,” de Schaun said. “Still, we have to deal with the reality and we’re grateful for the community’s spirit and support.”
Park Board cleaning teams are paid from Hotel Occupancy Tax and seawall parking revenues, de Schaun said.
For information about Surfriders Foundation, see www.galve stonsurfrider.com.
What: Post holiday beach clean up
Where: 37th Street jetty
When: 9 a.m. Saturday