Palm Coast - Picture it. Saturday morning at Waterfront Park. The sun was shining, the humidity was mild, and there was a fresh feeling in the air - this after the passing of Hurricane Dorian just days prior.
Palm Coast resident Karen Turowski was doing what she normally does every day - walking the path by the intracoastal. The difference today - she was participating for the first time in the City of Palm Coast's 12th Annual Intracoastal Waterway Cleanup. She's lived here for 15 years and it's been a goal for her to take part. "So I said, 'nope I'm going out and I'm doing this.'"
And so, with a garbage bag in tow, a hat, and gloves, she expected to find all sorts of things… especially with the storm having brought heavy winds and rain to the area earlier in the week.
"So far only basically debris from the hurricane from the palm trees and stuff like that not a lot of bottles and stuff. I've only found one bottle and a little bit of plastic," Turowski said.
She is one of nearly 300 people scattered to various local parks and outdoor recreational hot spots such as St. Joe Walkway, Flagler Beach, Herschel King Park, Long Creek Nature Preserve and other trails. Boaters work in saltwater canals and Intracoastal waters.
Councilman Bob Cuff also took part at one of the City trails. Impressed by the turnout, he emphasized the importance of cleanups in that we are 'rooted in nature.'
"I think it's excellent," Cuff said. "I was amazed at the number of bags they got in there. I hope everybody can make it after the storm. I think it will be a good opportunity for everybody to get outside."
While there were some first-timers this year, there were also some who make this community service event a tradition - like Katie Allio and her daughter's Girl Scout group - Troop 2160.
"The girls play here," Allio said. "So knowing that we're doing our part to keep it clean for us and other people is important."
This is troops third year in a row to be involved. The event has its unique twist - a scavenger hunt for trash with the goal of preserving the environment. A prize is given to whomever finds the most unusual or unique piece of garbage. For the scouts, they haven't found their most memorable find yet.
"A lot of cigarette butts, juice boxes, straw wrappers, straws, broken glass - I think the majority has been cigarette butts."
The team of nine began searching the parking lot at Waterfront Park and then moved on to the path. They know what they do find and throw away, will make a difference as volunteers collected 1,105 pounds of trash today.
"It's important to keep things clean so our world doesn't get filled up with trash," 11-year-old Samantha Allio said. "It's more of teamwork and I kind of enjoy it since we're all helping each other out."
Some of the larger items collected this year include a lamp shade, breadmaker appliance, cell phone, straw hat, body board (for the beach), bird house, piping and gas can. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers judged the 'most unique find' contest. The winners and prizes are below.
- Most Unique F.I.N.D. (judged by FWC) will win a Marineland Dolphin Encounter for 2, spoonbill PopSocket, spoonbill fact book, insulated reusable grocery bags, and the stuffed spoonbill mascot.
Winner: Breadmaker - Lia Raposo
- Most Trash Collected (awarded by results form) will win a Ripple Effect Ecotour for 2, spoonbill PopSocket, spoonbill fact book, and insulated reusable grocery bags.
Winner: Girl Scout Troop 1527 collected 150 pounds
- Reduce/Reuse Questions Prize Baskets: There are four baskets up for grabs by answering the questions correctly.
Winners: Ernie Morris; Nancy Ferlazzo; Brian Babcock; James Luong
- Basket #1: sporks, beeswax wrap, tumbler, and a beach towel.
- Basket #2: sporks, beeswax wrap, tumbler, and a hammock.
- Basket #3: sporks, beeswax wrap, tumbler, silicone baking mats, and a pair of sunglasses.
- Basket #4: sporks, beeswax wrap, tumbler, and a fanny pack.
Litter Bingo Prize Winners: Taylor Lockhart; Riley Harper; Alex Simms