PINE ISLAND — All hands, literally, are invited to Alfred McKethan Park at 11 a.m. Saturday to show solidarity against oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
The event is part of a national rally, Hands Across the Sand. Said local organizer Debbie DesChamps of Brooksville, "This movement is not about politics; it is about the coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife and our fishing industry. Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of offshore oil drilling."
DesChamps also referred to the disastrous oil gush from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe that is poisoning the gulf and its wildlife, with oil now flushed to the Florida Panhandle and approaching shores south toward Hernando County.
Participants will gather at Pine Island at 11 a.m., join hands at noon for 15 minutes of contemplation and pose for photos that will be forwarded to Tallahassee, Washington, D.C., and environmental magazines, DesChamps said.
DesChamps expects a significant crowd of supporters. Just through word of mouth, she said, she has solicited hundreds of people who want to take part. But with St. Pete Beach and Clearwater joining the movement, DesChamps said many people may choose to rally on those beaches.
The parking lot at Pine Island offers 132 parking spaces, but DesChamps said many of the supporters here will be carpooling. County parks director Pat Fagan said parking is at a premium on weekends.
"I do feel we need to do something in our own backyard," DesChamps declared. "I do want to be a small part of something that could be huge.
"If we can just get the word out how dangerous this is, change one person's view," she said. "I want to protect our waters. How are we going to live without the water?"
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.