Governor Recognizes OC’s Popular Adopt-A-Beach Program

Governor Recognizes OC’s Popular Adopt-A-Beach Program
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OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City received recognition from Gov. Larry Hogan this week for its efforts in keeping the coastal area clean through its new Adopt Your Beach program.

Adopt Your Beach Coordinator Effie Cox presented the citation to Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) liaison and Councilman Tony DeLuca, Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer and two participating residents at City Hall Monday afternoon.

The Green Team proposed the program to the city’s officials at the beginning of this year and has since initiated the Adopt Your Beach campaign, which spans from April to November. The campaign was the brainchild of the Ocean City Surf Club.

In April, residents, businesses and groups had already claimed and adopted 75 streets from the Inlet to the Maryland-Delaware line.

Throughout the summer, participants were responsible for picking up litter from the beaches and documenting the type and amount of trash collected. The city will use this data to target problem areas throughout the city.

“It means a lot to this town,” DeLuca said. “It is now starting to gain traction.”

Currently, only a few streets remain unclaimed near a group of condos that span from midtown to Northern Ocean City, according to Cox. But nearly 96 groups, including nearly 40 businesses, have stepped up to provide their services throughout the summer season.

From Sept. 11 through Oct. 10, volunteers collected 851 pounds of trash along the beaches, according to Cox.

Although there is no official total on the amount of trash collected throughout the entire season, DeLuca said teams have collected more than 200,000 cigarette butts alone.

“Adopt Your Beach to me is a great idea,” he said. “I’ve done it four times, and it’s amazing how much detailed cleaning we get off the beach even though the beach looks clean.”

Now entering the fall season, Cox said it is time to honor the participants.

“I am very excited about this,” she said. “It is acknowledging hundreds of people who are doing this, which is why for me it is so phenomenal.”

Cox said the enthusiasm of residents to claim portions of the beach that are meaningful to them is one of the reasons she loves the program.

“It’s about the people and their stories,” she said. “I have had residents say they wanted certain streets because their grandparents used to stay there.”

Ocean City resident Debby Xenakis said she was a participant of the 119th and 120th Street cleanup team from the program’s beginning and chose to adopt her own street.

With two other seasonal participants of her team gone, Xenakis said she will continue to clean her portion of the beach informally throughout the off-season.

“The history and tradition Ocean City holds for residents and visitors and generations of families, for us it is a chance to repay the families who created these traditions by caring for the beaches,” she said.

The momentum of the Adopt Your Beach program, however, has cast a shadow on its sister program, Adopt Your Street, which has seen less participation from residents.

“The streets we are pushing hard,” DeLuca said. “But the beach is sexy and the street isn’t. With that, we are struggling.”

Participating groups of the Adopt Your Beach program will each receive their own certificate from the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism. The citation itself will be presented to Mayor Rick Meehan and the city council before being put on display in City Hall.

In the citation, Hogan recognized Ocean City as having “the East Coast cleanest beaches”.

“He could have said ‘cleanest beach in the world’,” DeLuca joked.

“That’s next year,” Cox replied.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.