They came by car, with a few coming by boat, to the Burnt Store Boat Ramp on a muggy Saturday morning. All of them had a single mindset, to make northwest Cape Coral cleaner than it was.
More than 100 people participated in the 17th annual Trash Bash April 20, with northwest Cape Coral residents and property owners teaming up with city code enforcement personnel, the Cape Coral Police Department and its Marine Enforcement unit to clean up trash from empty properties and canals and forge relationships.
"The neighborhood gets together and we have organizations come in and go out and clean up," said event coordinator Rick Williams. "We go where the trash is. We drive around and if we see something we pick it up."
Sommer Ryan picks up some litter at the 17th annual Trash Bash Saturday.
Residents arrived at the boat ramp before 8:30 a.m. to receive trash bags, nets, trash grabbers, rubber gloves and event T-shirts before heading out to pick up problem areas north of Pine Island Road and west of El Dorado Parkway to collect trash.
The participants were of all ages, from middles school students to retirees. Trafalgar Middle School brought a bunch of students to take part, as did Cape Coral High School's environmental club.
"Florida is a beautiful place and I want to keep Cape Coral clean because it's just better," said Amy Nguyen, a Cape High sophomore.
"Just doing service, volunteerism, it's what we do," said Al Piotter, who came with his Trafalgar Middle School Builder's Club. "We expect 10 or 12. It's important to keep the city clean. It's where we live and if we do our little part, it leads to big stuff."
WastePro donated three large Dumpsters, which were located at the boat ramp and elsewhere to receive collected trash.
After the pickup, participants returned to the ramp to enjoy a pizza party.
The annual event is held in conjunction with the Keep Lee County Beautiful and the national Great American Cleanup Earth Day events. Working together, the Trash Bash has had the largest turnout in the county.
"It shows the community is cohesive enough to get up on a Saturday and show some pride and clean up the area," said environmentalist David Scott. "It sends a strong signal that we understand how damaging litter is."
Three major sponsors - Domino's Pizza, Keep Lee County Beautiful and Abate Pest Control - provided free pizza, food, cold water, soft drinks and other items for 16 years to make the event possible.
Williams said the event has always been a success, and this year was no exception.
"It's always been an extremely successful event. We get to meet our neighbors," Williams said. "A lot of people help us out with this."