NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Clean the Bay Day is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary by reuniting its founders.
Robert Dean organized the group in 1989 after seeing heaps of trash filling waterways to the Chesapeake Bay.
“Cigarette butts, syringes, baby diapers, You name it, it’s usually on the beach,” Dean said.
The group cleaned 52 miles with 2,000 volunteers in that first year, according to Dean.
Since then, 125,000 volunteers have collected 6.5 million pounds of debris in those three decades, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which now leads the event.
Dean, other original members, and volunteers came together in Ocean View Beach Park to assess the litter on those sands.
That included Steve Pahno, the former owner of Dominion Printing, which printed items for Clean the Beach Day.
“Steve drove all the way up here from Florida, non-stop, to attend this event. Thirty years later, he’s still at it,” Dean said.
Pahno said Dean first approached him in 1989 asking him to help out with the event.
He said he was interested in marine biology and majored in biology in college, so of course he helped out.
“I was always an advocate of the bay, fishers, boaters. I thought it was a great idea,” he said.
Many of the beaches have changed, according to Pahno.
He believes there’s less greenery and wildlife, but thinks the sands are pretty clear.
Pahno hopes that by keeping it clean, the wildlife can get back to its natural state.
Dean also hopes to keep the beaches, streams, and other waterways clear and clean.
While they’re proud of how much it’s grown, they hope to one day put an end to Clean the Bay.
“I think as it continues through the next 30 years, eventually it will end because people will say ‘OK enough is enough.’ I’ll change my ways and I’m going to start respecting my environment in this wrinkled blue planet for the next generation,” Dean said.
Clean the Bay Day will be held on June 2.
To learn more or to register, visit http://www.cbf.org/events/clean-the-bay-day/