Beach sweeps organized by Clean Ocean Action, a local environmental advocacy group, were held Saturday up and down the Jersey Shore after being previously postponed due to foul weather. Ocean County’s northern barrier island was well represented!
The delay didn’t put a damper on turnout, as local towns saw volunteers organized on quick notice to help make the area’s beaches in tip-top shape for the upcoming summer season. Lavallette, in particular, historically has a large cadre of volunteers turn out, and several dozen did Saturday, said Councilwoman Anita Zalom.
“Over 45 came in spite of the change in date and rain forecast,” said Zalom, who served as captain of one of the beach sweep teams alongside fellow council member David Finter.
The good turnout in Lavallette and other towns shows the dedication to Shore protection that both residents and visitors have to their local beaches.
“On April Fool’s Day, for the first time in its 38-year history, the Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweeps was cancelled in the morning due to unpredicted, dangerous, not so funny weather,” said Kiana Miranda, a communications director with COA. “Due to popular demand by towns and volunteers, the event was rescheduled. Today thousands of dedicated volunteers returned for the rescheduled Beach Sweep. This year’s event also included a photo contest for the most unusual item.”
Cindy Zipf, a legend among Shore area environmentalists, took the rescheduling in stride.
“While certainly one of the most challenging Beach Sweeps to date, it affirms two powerful truths,” she said. “First, never schedule an event on April Fool’s Day, you’re tempting fate! Second, and most importantly, towns, Beach Captains, Junior Beach Captains, volunteers, and the cast of thousands that make Beach Sweeps possible are true-blue and passionate about protecting the marine environment.”
Volunteers up and down the coast came from destinations ranging from Bergen County all the way to Chicago, COA said.
Random items turned up, including a tiny stranded blowfish which was assisted back into the ocean in Seaside Park.
“For over 38 years, Clean Ocean Action has organized grassroots volunteer Beach Sweeps across the state of New Jersey,” the organization said. “These dedicated organizations have provided vital funding so that COA can execute and expand the Sweeps. We also recognize and appreciate all the companies who have supported the event over the years. Clean Ocean Action is grateful for the support of the sponsors and is inspired by all that they do to support our communities.”