Abandoned fuel in large canister among the 800 pounds of trash picked up at Virginia Key Beach Park’s 74th Anniversary clean-up party

A flood advisory could not dampen the good times last Saturday afternoon as the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park celebrated its 74th anniversary August 3rd.

Over 200 volunteers picked up trash during the Virginia Key Historic Park anniversary morning clean up.

Photo Courtesy David Winker

Guy Forchion, executive director of Historic Virginia Key Beach Trust, said attendees and staff shaking off intermittent heavy rains was a perfect metaphor for the park’s 74 years of existence.

Volunteers picked up trash

Volunteers picked up trash during the Virginia Key Historic Park anniversary morning clean up. Photo Courtesy David Winker

“Today is a day to celebrate the struggle and how far we have come in realizing the dream of making this park the destination for people looking for a first class experience,” Forchion said.

“We are also focusing on the work in the year ahead, with Super Bowl events next February and we are already gearing up for next year’s 75th Anniversary.”

The morning on Virginia Key began with a beach cleanup at North Point Park organized by Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC), Our Better Places, and Outdoor Connections.

Part of the over 200 volunteers who picked up trash during the Virginia Key Historic Park

Photo Courtesy David Winker

City of Miami Commissioner and district representative Ken Russell joined over 200 volunteers in the cleanup effort.

“We beat the rain and gathered over 800 lbs of trash on this beautiful part of District 2,” said Commissioner Russell.

City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell who represents Virginia Key joined the clean-up efforts.

Photo Courtesy David Winker

“We also picked up 15 gallons of micro plastics, lots of glass, and removed a large fuel canister filled with fuel and left on the shore by the mangroves, along with a tire,” said Diana Perez, executive director of Our Better Places.

Esther Alonso Luft, owner of VKOC said she was thankful for the role the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park has played in re-igniting passion for the outdoors in our community.

“As stewards of this special place we must work together to preserve a lasting legacy for all who visit these shores.”

In the afternoon at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, kids enjoyed two bounce houses while Kechi Okpala and other park staff handed out birthday cake, ice cream, flavored ice, and led tours of the park as part of the 74th anniversary celebration.

Park staff member Kechi Okpala

Park staff member Kechi Okpala shares cake with guests and volunteers.Photo Courtesy David Winker

Guy Forchion finished up the day packing up to head to the Association of African American Museums Annual Conference in Jackson, Mississippi, which focuses this year on “improving organizations, protecting collections, and impacting futures through the preservation of African American art, history and culture.”

Miami’s African-American Museum on Virginia Key recently took another step forward as it received the operating funding from the city of Miami needed to unlock over $20 million in Miami-Dade county bonds to begin construction.