It's a gay Atlanta tradition. Muscled guys in tiny swimsuits and lesbians in skimpy two-pieces invade Pensacola for Memorial Day. Some of them leave the beach a trashy mess. Now the county is taking action.
Escambia County – which took control of public works on Pensacola Beach last fall – is warning that it will enforce a new ordinance that bans overnight camping and requires that your trash be removed at sunset – each day. No more leaving umbrellas, tents, chairs and other party supplies on the beach overnight to reserve a spot close to the sexy celebration.
That's a sea change from past years when LGBT crowds staged their big beach takeover for the long holiday weekend. But beach caretakers are tired of picking up the $12,000 to $15,000 tab for cleaning up the place after the crowds decamp. The crackdown comes as the result of the Leave No Trace ordinance the county passed in August as it prepared to takeover operations to care for the beach, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
“In addition to making our beaches more turtle friendly and in line with those in surrounding areas and across the nation, we hope our beach cleanup costs throughout the summer will be reduced,” Joy Tsubooka, spokeswoman for Escambia County, said in an emailed statement about the enforcement of the ordinance during Memorial Day weekend.
“According to the Santa Rosa Island Authority, Memorial weekend cleanup historically ran $12,000 to $15,000. This is the first year that the county is directly responsible for public works activities on the beach,” she said in the statement.
Residents who support the LGBT celebration are working to spread the word about the new ordinance ahead of the holiday weekend. Dwayne Beebe-Franqui has recruited 50 volunteers to walk the beach throughout the weekend as part of Peach South Beach Cleanup Initiative to talk with party-goers and help clean up, according to the Pensacola News Journal.
Members of the Pensacola-area LGBT community want to ensure that the weekend goes as smoothly as possible, [Beebe-Franqui] said.
“I hope to be a conduit so we can work together and resolve any problems because there are going to be thousands of people out there on the beach,” he said.
“We want to promote a good relationship between locals and the LGBT community,” he said.