Virginia 'Floatopia' attendants leave 10 tons of trash behind after Memorial Day celebrations
Photos of Virginia Beach littered with piles of trash following Memorial Day weekend celebrations have sparked anger across the web.
An estimated 10 tons — or 20,000 pounds — of trash littered the shores of Chic's Beach following "Floatopia," an unofficial annual summer kick-off event where revelers party in the Chesapeake Bay on boats and pool floats.
Virginia Beach Councilman Michael Berlucchi took to Facebook on Monday to express his dismay in the aftermath of the Sunday event, which attracted hundreds of participants.
"I was disappointed to wake up this morning to see images of trash all over our beautiful Chesapeake Bay beach after Sunday’s festivities," he wrote. "We can do better than this! Let’s work together to keep our City beautiful and clean."
Resident Drew Lankford told WCNC it took a cleaning crew of nine people almost three hours to completely clear the garbage, which he likened to a natural disaster.
"Almost every kind of trash you can think of," he recalled. "It was food wrappers, cans, bottles, pieces of floats, towels, everything. It was almost like they saw a tornado coming and everybody just got up and ran for safety and left everything there."
Another resident, Barry Preston, told WCNC that he believes city management "needs to really take a look at Floatopia and what it does to the community."
"It was really bad, it was a disaster," he told the station.
Public officials in Florida expressed similar outrage following a Miami "Floatopia" event in 2016, which drew nearly 100,000 attendees who left behind massive amounts of trash.
"The disruption to our beaches, residents and visitors caused by Floatopia will NOT be tolerated," Philip Levine, then mayor of Miami Beach, wrote on Facebook, along with a photo of the party with the words "Never Again" emblazoned across the top.
Levine added that he would be working with City Manager Jimmy Morales to approve a plan that would prevent a repeat of the non-city-sanctioned event, which had taken place each year since 2012, from "happening on our beaches going forward."
In response, the unnamed organizers of the event shared a final message on Facebook, chiding those responsible for the mess and affirming their mission was always to "protect the beach."
"The level of disrespect shown on our beach yesterday was unimaginable," they stated. "Thank you to everyone who cleanup after themselves but unfortunately, this time, you were the minority. We refuse to be associated with this kind of behavior and much less will we facilitate an event that hurts a city and beach that we love."