Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful is combining two major community cleanup projects in order to draw more volunteers and celebrate bigger.
The Hillsborough River Cleanup and the Coastal Cleanup, both traditionally held in the fall, will be one big event on Saturday, Oct. 20, when volunteers fan out across Hillsborough County to pick up debris and litter along roadsides and riverbanks.
As a reward, volunteers will be treated to the Rollin' on the River Rally, an afternoon of picnicking, games and a Recycle Regatta at Lowry Park.
"We're pooling our resources and saving our sanity," said Patricia DePlasco, community education liaison for the group. Because of the merger between Tampa Bay Beautification and Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful, which took place last year, it only made sense, she said.
"We can get more volunteers out to more sites on a one-day event, rather than two separate events," DePlasco said. There will be more than 50 sites where volunteers can sign up to collect garbage left behind by others.
In partnership with Ocean Conservancy, data will be collected from the event that includes the number and type of items found, the overall tonnage removed and the amount of recyclable material diverted from each site.
Volunteers and teams wishing to participate in the Recycle Regatta, where they will make floating vessels out of 70 percent recycled materials, then race them, should sign up in advance by going to keeptampabaybeautiful.org. The event has grown from three teams the first year to 20 last year, and DePlasco said she is hoping for even more participation this year.
There also will be a River Rat Challenge between teams, where middle school and high school teams will compete in various games.
A free lunch will be served.
All the after-cleanup events will be at Lowry Park in Tampa.
The event will begin at each site at 9 a.m. and end at lunchtime.
For more information, call (813) 221-8733. To register online, go to keeptampabaybeautiful.org.