- Posted July 6, 2012 by
San Diego, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Nancy's Family Album
SURFRIDER SAN DIEGO "FAMILY" CLEANS UP BEACH AFTER JULY 4th
Before the non profit groups Surfrider San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper stepped up to help out, pictures of beach trash pile-ups after the 4th of July holidays left our bays and oceans looking like a war zone.
Now, the call goes out to volunteers to come out early July 5th and get to work picking up leftovers from July 4th revelries. There is a unique aspect to cleaning up Ocean Beach in San Diego, for here there is a long local tradition of marshmallow fights after the end of the July 4th fireworks. At one time many years ago, it was just a few families tossing sticky marshmallows at each other. But over the years, it has turned into a full-fledged marshmallow war.
Last year, in 2011, was the worst I had ever seen. Marshmallows in the sand stretched north for many blocks and the streets, alleys and curbs alongside the beach was littered with the oozing goopy treats melting in the hot sun. Even those winged rats--the sea gulls-would not touch the mess and they will eat anything!
So it was with trepidation, that my son and I got down to the beach this morning, prepared for the worst. But this year, we got lucky. because the 4th of July fell midweek on a Wednesday and the weather that day had been cool and cloudy, marshmallow traffic at the beach was reduced.
Also, Surfrider San Diego did a great job of getting the word out about the need for volunteers to come down and help at all four San Diego county beach clean-up locations. In 2011, about 80 volunteers came to Ocean Beach to pick marshmallows out of the sand. This year, an estimated 132 people showed up and that enhanced amount of clean-up volunteers made all the difference. In 2011, Coastkeeper estimated 826 lbs. of trash (mostly marshmallows in OB) was picked up. This year, Haley Jain Haggerstone of Surfrider said that "nearly 2,000 cigarette butts, 343 plastic bags and 70 pieces of Styrofoam" were removed fromOcean Beach alone.. This garbage, added up to more than 2,000 pounds of trash and 15 pounds of recycling material.
"We had more volunteers (compared to last year), and as a result, we collected twice as much garbage,'' Haggerstone told City News Service. I would venture to say that in Ocean Beach, about 75% of the trash collected were marshmallows. Haggersstone noted that "the most energetic cleaners were some of the participants in the traditional Ocean Beach marshmallow fight,." Perhaps these marshmallow fighters felt the shame heaped upon them by many people in the beach community who were asking for a ban on marshmallow fights since they have turned into such a mess. Some of the most vocal critics of the tradition are business owners and stores along the beach. The sticky mess left behind by the marshmallows create a safety and health hazard as people trip and slip on the leftovers.
Haley Haggerstorm said that as many as 1,000 people took part in Wednesday's July 4th horseplay on the beach. And as I cleaned along the boardwalk this morning, I noted a new sinister, super-sized marshmallow in the trash bags. One marshmallow battler even admitted he now freezes his bags of marshmallows, so when he throws them, they pack a greater wallop.
Even City councilman Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Tony Young showed up in Ocean Beach to see for themselves the mayhem. Councilman Faulconer was very gracious and appreciative of the good turnout of cleaning volunteers. He even picked up a grabber and bag and went to work himself. It was also a great photo op for the ambitious politico.
But once I was able to corner Council President Tony Young at the Surfrider tent, I made sure I let him know that this marshmallow problem is not going away. I also mentioned how many environmentalists were hopeful the the City Council might consider a "Marshmallow Ordinance" where the sticky fun could be relegated to a certain "Marshmallow Zone." This would be created not just for the sake of clean-up but also city liability as it is a real danger to have people slipping and sliding on the leftover marshmallows.
Good politician that he is, Council President Young said that he "is not sure" about a Marshmallow proposal but he promised "to think about it."
Nearly 2,000 pounds of trash picked up today by 132 people in Ocean Beach alone! Now that is something to celebrate! July 5th and everyday.