Northwest Cape Coral residents and others are invited to help clean up a portion of the city next weekend during the 16th annual Trash Bash.
The event takes place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Burnt Store Boat Ramp. Participants can pick up free trash bags and a commemorative T-shirt at the boat ramp starting at 8:30 a.m. Those who want gloves should bring them.
"These cleanups are kind of symbolic," event co-coordinator David Scott, noting that only so much trash can be collected in one day. "It shows that the community will come out, and we care what the community looks like."
It also has consistently had the largest turnout in Lee County.
The cleanup is held in conjunction with the national Great American Cleanup Earth Day events and Keep Lee County Beautiful. City code enforcement, the Cape police and the police departments marine unit will also be taking part.
According to Scott, the first event in 1997 started with the Cape police.
16th annual Trash Bash
Saturday, April 21, from 9 a.m. to noon
Burnt Store Boat Ramp, at 230 Burnt Store Road S.
To clean up empty properties and canals in northwest Cape Coral
"It used to be a kind of dumping ground," he said of the area north of Pine Island Road and west of El Dorado Boulevard, where the event focuses.
Now, the cleanup is a way to keep the trash from getting out of hand.
"It is a reoccurring problem, so we like to just stay on top of it," Scott said.
After stocking up on supplies, participants can head to a known problem area or an area of their choice located north of Pine Island and west of El Dorado.
"They can work in their own little part of their neighborhood, or we do have areas that need attention," Rick Williams, who is also a co-coordinator, said.
"Empty lots tend to accumulate a lot of trash," he said.
There will be dumpsters at the Burnt Store Boat Ramp and located on Yucatan Boulevard at Burnt Store Road to dispose of whatever is collected. Last year, participants filled up four 20-yard dumpsters at the event.
"They actually had to bring in an extra dumpster," Williams said.
Scott explained that code enforcement identified a dump site.
As for what is collected, they have found anything and everything.
"The whole spectrum. Discarded engine blocks, small engines, thousands of tires, roofing materials," Scott said, adding that once there was a wall safe.
"It was obviously evidence to some crime," he said.
Williams said cans and bottles are probably the most common items.
"We've picked up toilets and cabinets, even a little Buddha statue," he said.
Absentee property owners and Realtors who have not checked on old "For Sale" signs recently in the area are advised to check on them to make sure they are standing. Old fallen signs, a problem in the past, will be collected.
Williams first started participating in the cleanup about six years ago.
"It's a nice way to spend the morning," he said. "People in the neighborhood get together - anybody is welcome. It's a good event that helps the city."
"When we're done, you can see the difference," Williams said.
About 120 people and six boats participated in last year's event.
"This year we're trying to get a really good group," he said.
Those who want to help should use common sense when it comes to their attire. Comfortable shoes, a hat and sunscreen are suggested. People also should consider pants because some trash may be back in the vegetation.
At noon, a pizza party will be held for the participants. The Domino's on Skyline has provided free food for the cleanup since its start, while Abate Pest Control has been a monetary sponsor for nearly as long, Scott said.
The Burnt Store Boat Ramp is at 230 Burnt Store Road S.
For more information on the annual Trash Bash, contact David Scott at (239) 246-7508 or Rick Williams at (239) 898-5004.