Every year, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence by shooting off a shit-ton of bottle rockets, M-80s and Roman candles — and, for many of us, that isn't enough: We flock to our waterfront parks to watch our cities "go big or go home" with the fireworks (even a small city show costs at least $20,000). It's fun, we eat lots of hot dogs (beef, turkey and vegan, because have you met us?) and drink lots of beer. Some of us, though — and we're not pointing any fingers, here — could be better about cleaning up our hot dog wrappers, beer cans and spent Roman candles.
We're not here to lecture. If you don't do it, great, good on ya' — but there are plenty of people who seem to think the planet is our toilet, and they're not so great with the "waste management" aspect of patriotic holidays (OK, so we sorta lectured)
That's where Tampa Bay Watch comes in. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary, and it has organized a series of cleanups across St. Petersburg. Anyone, from kids who have only recently mastered the art of using their legs, to kayakers who can untangle fishing line from red mangroves while fighting small surf, can help. Locations include the Skyway — that's where Tampa Bay Watch says it needs the most help and we tend to believe them — the Tampa Bay Watch building by the Fort DeSoto approach, Bartlett Park and Coffee Pot Bayou. Heads up: Tampa Bay Watch already has plenty of terra firma cleaners-uppers at Coffee Pot Bayou, so they only need kayakers (or canoe-ers, or SUP-ers) there, and if you go that route, you must use your own vessel.
Tampa Bay Watch also asks that as you plan your celebration, you choose something other than single-use plastics and maybe think about bringing reusable forks, knives and water bottles. And, of course, when it comes to straws and balloons, you're not buying or bringing any, right? We knew you weren't. Good on ya.
Post-Fourth of July Coastal Cleanup | Locations include Skyway, Tampa Bay Watch, Bartlett Park, and Coffee Pot Bayou (kayakers only) | July 7: 9 a.m.-12 p.m. | Click the name of the location to register.