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Annual Coastal Cleanup event to take place Saturday in resort

Delmarva Power’s Matt Likovich holds up the 2013 Coastal Cleanup T-shirt design. Volunteers will get a free T-shirt for participating in the trash pick-up in Ocean City this Saturday. (Clara Vaughn)

(Sept. 27, 2013) Volunteers will take to Ocean City’s beach and the bay Saturday for the 2013 Coastal Cleanup, an initiative to clear Maryland and Delaware coastlines of litter.

The Ocean City cleanup starts at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Sept. 28, at Town Hall on Third Street. Registration includes a commemorative T-shirt, bags, gloves and an assignment, although those with a preferred cleanup area can tell coordinators.

After the clean up, volunteers will meet at Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon on 28th Street to celebrate National Estuary Day, raising their glasses for a symbolic Toast to the Coast.

The 2013 Coastal Cleanup kicked off in early September with trash pick-ups slated for around 50 sites in Delaware and nine Maryland locations, including Assateague and Ocean City.

“It’s a community event. It’s an opportunity for people to get together,” said Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power, the event’s main sponsor.

Last year, around 2,100 volunteers collected about 18,000 pounds of trash, about half of which was recycled, Likovich said.

While that’s “a significant amount of waste removed from the bays and rivers,” it’s down from around 60,000 pounds of trash collected a decade ago thanks to increased public awareness, he said.

“People are getting the message that it pays to be environmentally conscious,” Likovich said. And that goes for personal enjoyment as well as economic goals in a resort town relying on its beaches to draw tourists.

The Coastal Cleanup initiative began with Delaware’s Get the Drift and Bag It program 27 years ago. Four years later, it spread to other Delmarva areas through new sponsor Delmarva Power.

“We initially focused on our ocean beaches,” Delaware Department of Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Dave Small said. But eventually, those areas were saturated with volunteers, “so we started expanding.”

Volunteers began taking to Delaware’s bays and backwaters. Now, “we stretch virtually from the Pennsylvania to the Maryland line,” Small said.

The cleanup draws around 2,000 volunteers in Delaware and more than 100 in Maryland annually, Small said. Delmarva Power works with sponsors such as Waste Management, which collects trash and recyclables free of charge, and Playtex, which provides plastic gloves for volunteers.

To pre-register for the Ocean City cleanup, e-mail sandis@mdcoastalbays.org or call 410-213-2297, ext. 107. Or simply meet at Town Hall the day of the event.

 “We’re looking forward to having another successful project,” Small said.

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