Campaign to keep beads out of Tampa Bay appears successful

This year's pirate invasion produced a record amount of trash, according to a report from Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. 

Despite total collection numbers being up, volunteers are happy. Fewer beads ended up in Tampa Bay and less litter landed on the ground - and they don't think that happened by mistake.

"Less beads make me happy," resident Zhenya Nichols said.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's Bead-Free Bay initiative kicked off a month before the parade, urging paradegoers and krewes to be cognizant of where their booty landed.

"Our bay really defines us as a community, the river and the bay, and it is up to us to ensure that we maintain the pristine character of it for all of the marine life," Mayor Jane Castor said in December.

More than 30,000 strands were recovered by volunteers this week, but the majority were on dry land.

This year, volunteer divers with Adventure Outfitters pulled more than 2,000 beads from the water, which is slightly less than last year. On the land, more than 30,000 beads were recovered and will be donated to the MacDonald Training Center, where adults with disabilities will incorporate the beads into various up-cycled projects.

"It's just really good to see that the boats and going out on the water this year really did abide by the proclamation the mayor put out and made it a bead-free event," Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful Executive Director Debbie Evenson said.

Along with the beads, several hundred volunteers removed about 4,700 pounds of litter, debris, and recyclables along the parade route.

While the total amount of trash was more than ever, litter along the parade route was much less than in previous years.

"I actually believe it's because the city put out more garbage bins and recycling bins and participates are using," Evenson said.

Some residents who live along Bayshore are hoping the amount of trash collected continues to decline in the years to come.

"We should accommodate. We should be more mindful. We should understand that we are not isolated here on Bayshore," resident Zhenya Nichols said.