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Volunteers find plenty to toss at Great American Cleanup

Tampa Prep sophomore Anthony Baumann, 16, right, carries a crate he found while participating in the 15th annual Great American Cleanup along the Courtney Campbell Parkway in Tampa on Saturday. Baumann, joined by sophomore Brandon Weisz, also 16, are members of the Key Club.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Tampa Prep sophomore Anthony Baumann, 16, right, carries a crate he found while participating in the 15th annual Great American Cleanup along the Courtney Campbell Parkway in Tampa on Saturday. Baumann, joined by sophomore Brandon Weisz, also 16, are members of the Key Club.

TAMPA — Bria Council hunched over and crawled between the trees. Something shiny flashed in the sunlight.

She picked up an empty Capri Sun pouch with her rubber-glove-covered hands.

"Oh, my God! Another one?" said Allie Weinstock, 13.

Juice boxes and broken bottles were a common sight along the shoreline. But some of the things they stuffed into garbage bags, like Styrofoam balls and a plastic bag filled with bones, made them wonder.

"There's a lot of weird stuff here," said Council, 14.

The eighth-graders at Wilson Middle School were among more than 2,000 volunteers who signed up for the Great American Cleanup at 32 Hillsborough locations on Saturday.

At the Courtney Campbell Parkway's boat ramp, 120 volunteers checked in and fanned out across 4 miles of coastline.

The area seems clean at first glance, said Michael Brown, a board member for Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful.

"If you get in the mangroves … then it's pretty evident that there's a major problem," he said.

Last year, volunteers picked up about 55,000 pounds of trash across the county. Totals for this year won't be calculated until Monday.

At the Courtney Campbell site, volunteers collected enough trash to fill a 20-cubic-yard Dumpster.

Alexandria Ramos, 7, of Westchase saw a battered beach ball and a cereal bowl as she walked along the Courtney Campbell Parkway with her mom Saturday.

"I never believed there could be so much trash everywhere," she said.

But not everything wound up in the garbage.

John Vance, 45, of Temple Terrace, stuffed two whiffle balls in his pocket.

"The kids can still play with these," he said.

Others carried away seashells, fishing lures and crates.

As the cleanup began to wind down, a rusty red cauldron sat in the bed of a city pickup, parked near the boat ramp.

A family found it in a clearing surrounded by mangroves, said Kevin Serra, a senior parks operations specialist for the city. Several dead animals were nearby.

"That's the weirdest thing I've ever seen," he said as he showed the cauldron's contents to a pack of curious onlookers.

Horns and knives, a deer antler, pieces of an animal skull, a crucifix and a rusty railroad spike.

Serra said he hoped to show them to police. Such items have started turning up regularly at cleanups along the causeway, he said.

"Last year, we found a headless goat," said Christine Commerce, executive director of Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, which sponsored the event.

This year, the Courtney Campbell cleanup ended on a more positive note. Someone saw a live rooster.

"They're trying to figure out what to do with him," Commerce said.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 661-2454.

Volunteers find plenty to toss at Great American Cleanup 04/19/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 19, 2008 9:15pm]
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