Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Little hands do big job cleaning Clam Bayou


Never was "one man's trash is another's treasure" more apt than Saturday morning when Canterbury School's Brownie Troop 906 foraged through the mangrove fringes of Clam Bayou Nature Park and removed 42 pounds of garbage. Not even the tiniest bit of plastic or Styrofoam could escape their unabated enthusiasm. Nor, in the innocence of second-graders, did they ponder that the cigarette lighters and plastic cigar filters that dotted the landscape signified that their cleanup area was a pot smokers' hideaway by night. It was better than an Easter egg hunt.

"Wow! This is my lucky day. A whole bottle," one girl squealed as she dove under a bush to snag a plastic castoff.

"I've got a bowl!" Victoria Zamitalo, 7, yelled in triumph.

"Eeeeyew! Who was eating this stuff down here?" sounded a girlish cry deep in another mangrove clump.

Clam Bayou, an arm of Boca Ciega Bay between Gulfport and St. Petersburg, is particularly prone to junk.

Storm drains flush trash and oily runoff from neighboring streets, and people who frequent the surrounding park apparently leave plenty of personal residue.

The city of Gulfport has organized volunteer cleanups for 15 years. More than 100 people took part Saturday, said Bob Williams of the Recreation Department.

Personal care and culinary items dominated their haul.

Combs, straws, chopsticks, Burger King wrappers, an eyewash bottle, a fork, a Bud Light bottle, a lipstick and something that Wendy Clark, one of the Brownie moms, spotted among the mangrove roots.

"You know how you separate your nails when you get a pedicure. That's one of those nail separators."

Al Davis of Gulfport Water Watch, a citizen's advocacy group, praised the volunteers' efforts, but blasted public officials for not preventing further storm water pollution of the bayou.

"This is a toilet that's being flushed," Davis said. "There used to be edible clams and oysters here. Now nobody in their right mind would eat anything out of here."

Brownie Troop 906 was oblivious to any such political contention.

At the registration table, Brownies donned plastic gloves like diminutive surgeons and armed themselves with "grabbers," those 3-foot tools that allow adults to pick up trash without bending over.

Then they headed for the mangroves.

"Brownie people are awesome. They clean up the Earth," 7-year-old Nikoletta Kalfopoulos pronounced to no one in particular.

"Go, Brownies."

Little hands do big job cleaning Clam Bayou 10/18/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  2. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  3. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  4. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  5. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501