Crews clean up Pensacola Beach after Memorial Day gays

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A team of more than 100 volunteers cleaned up after thousands of LGBT party-goers left their trash – and cash – behind during the Memorial Day holigay on Pensacola Beach. 

This year's annual sexy ab fest was met with new restrictions to help deal with the litter left behind after the LGBT celebration. It's sometimes a trashy mess, so officials banned beach-goers from leaving their party supplies on the beach overnight. They relaxed the new restrictions from its Leave No Trace Behind ordinance at the last minute and granted gay promoter Johnny Chisholm a reprieve for a slice of the beach that's key to the gay beach party.

But still, there was plenty of trash left behind. Via the Pensacola News-Journal:

Rather than relaxing under a beach tent Monday morning, Paul Carnes hauled bags of debris to a trash bin in a parking lot along Park East on Pensacola Beach.

Carnes was among more than 100 volunteers who took part in an around-the-clock beach cleanup during Memorial Day beach festivities attended by thousands of members of the LGBT community from around the country. The annual gathering, which began in the early 1960s, brought big crowds to the beach along Park East throughout the holiday weekend.

“I've brought up hundreds and hundreds of bags,” Carnes said as he carried more bags of trash from the beach to the parking lot early Monday.

The volunteer effort came in response to the new ordinance, which the county passed last fall. Via PNJ:

The volunteers wore neon green T-shirts with the PSouth logo. They worked in three-hour shifts, walking up and down the beach, handing out trash bags and letting people know about county ordinances prohibiting overnight camping and requiring beachgoers to remove personal items from the beach at sunset.

“We are educating people about the ordinances and letting them know how clearing the beach helps the sea turtles,” said volunteer Jonathan Beebe-Franqui, who recruited some of his out-of-town house guests to take part in the cleanup during their vacation.

Despite the trashy mess that some LGBT beach-goers leave behind, the big gay crowds for the holiday weekend also leave behind plenty of cash at local businesses. Via WEAR TV:

Nathan Holler, owner of Doghouse Deli on the beach said the annual celebration impacts their bottom line.

“For us on the beach its been a long winter and this is just a kick off to our summer season,” Holler said.

Also, Holler said their business triples this time of year.

“It's like a light switch,” Holler said. “You'll come in do; we may see ten or 15 people a day during the slow weeks and then you'll see 500 people in a day and it just happens overnight.”

Other businesses like Cafe Bistro also cash in on the large crowds who visit the beach for some fun in the sun.

Zachary Preston with Cafe Bistro said, “Compared to the last two weekends we've easily doubled maybe almost tripled our business so far.”

Large crowds on Saturday filled parking spots near the beach and caused a traffic jam, according to the Pensacola News-Journal.

Tens of thousands of sun and fun seekers jammed the small barrier island for the Memorial Day weekend, with Escambia County Sheriff's deputies forced to turn away cars near Portofino where parking lots and the sandy sides of the road were stuffed with vehicles.

“Where are we supposed to park?'' a young man yelled from a yellow Jeep. “Everywhere is filled.”

Some said they walked more than a mile to the packed beach spots east of Portofino, where the large contingent of gay and lesbian visitors annually flock for the Memorial Day weekend.

“We found a spot on the side of the road,'' said Shelli Carroll, 27, of Houston who was visiting with friends. “But it's a long way away from where we want to go. We've already been walking 20 minutes.”

[photo via marcusshore]


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