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Fourth of July revelers trash beach, but helpers always clean up

They left behind barbecues and bottles, shade tents and sand toys.

Remnants of the previous day’s festivities were apparent Tuesday, July 5, at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point – left behind trash strewn across the sand.

The day following the Fourth of July is one of the messiest days of the year for local beaches, with maintenance crews and volunteers working diligently to scoop up what thousands of revelers discarded after a day of hanging out at the beach awaiting the nighttime firework show.

“They come down to the beach because it’s beautiful,” said Jacqueline Price, who showed up with others from the Doheny Longboard Surfing Association for her first-ever Fifth of July beach cleanup, a long held tradition of the club. “And then you walk away, leaving it to look like a rubbish dump. I just don’t understand it.”



Volunteers arrived at sunrise to get to work, armed with gloves and bags to stuff with the junk, scouring the sand and cement bikeways and finding everything from large items such as pop-up tents to thousands of tiny paper poppers that covered the ground.

Debbie Gale, a longtime club member who has helped for decades with the post-celebration cleanup, said the volunteers always start at the water’s edge to make sure they get the Styrofoam and plastic before it washes to the sea.

In her hand, she clutched a long, sharp two-prong barbecue fork she picked up – a piece of trash that could do serious damage to someone walking on the sand.

Another frustrating find: A piece of thin plastic buried under the sand, likely used to makeshift a small kiddie pool.

Each time she tried to pull it out from under the heavy sand, the plastic tore. So she and a State Parks worker plopped down and started digging it out with sand toys they also found left behind, spending nearly an hour on just that one piece of trash.

“We got all of it,” she said. “It had to come out.”

Also among the finds: a half-full can of lighter fluid, a beach chair broken into pieces, lots of beach towels and even a soft-top surfboard someone forgot to take home.

“I can be here and pick up 50 pieces of trash, but what if 50 people came and picked up one piece?” Gale asked. “It takes more than one person. It takes a community.”

Price had an even better idea: “Or what if everyone took their own trash out?”

Price said she understands the little pieces that drop and go unnoticed, but there’s no excuse for the bigger items left behind, some seeming intentionally.

“How can you not see that? How can you walk away and not see what you’ve left?” she wondered. “It’s very discouraging.”

Mark Gale, president of the Doheny Longboard Surfing Association, said Tuesday wasn’t the worst aftermath he’s seen. When the holiday lands on a Friday or Saturday, that’s when it gets really bad, he said.

And there were some signs of hope. There weren’t as many metal sparklers that can stab people in the feet, as there were last year. And he only found three dirty diapers on the sand.

Surprisingly, there weren’t as many cigarette butts as previous years, he said, but there was still plenty to pick up near the picnic tables. There also weren’t as many confetti steamers strewn on the sand, which “makes it a little easier,” he said.

Dave Price, also joining the cleanup effort for the first time, was still dismayed at what was left behind.

“Act like human beings. Take care of your stuff,” he said.  “Clean up after yourself.”

Source: Orange County Register

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