Another summer has come and gone, filled with days of laughter, sunshine and relaxation at the beach.
While the parties have gone, the reminders of them -- caps from water bottles and soda, straws from drinks, and hundreds of other bits of debris -- remain behind.
This Saturday, hundreds of volunteers will be hitting the state's beaches from Sandy Hook to Cape May to pick up plastics, Styrofoam, cans and much more, left behind by humans and the tides, as part of Clean Ocean Action's fall Beach Sweeps event.
(Belmar is holding two at the Belmar Fishing Club/First Avenue beach and 16th Avenue beach. Manasquan crews will assemble on Main Beach. All begin at 9 a.m. See below for a complete list of sites.)
Since the first sweeps in 1985, more than 90,000 volunteers have participated in the now twice-yearly event, picking up more than 4.5 million bits of trash and debris.
While the nature of that debris has changed as the times have changed -- cigarette butts have dropped out of the top three items, but plastic bottle tops, which were far more rare in the 1980s, have surged into their place -- the need for awareness has not, Clean Ocean Action says.
"Fish, whales, birds, and other animals often mistake litter for food," the group says on its information page about the beach sweeps. "As a result, animals get entangled in, or ingest, items such as plastic bags, cigarette filters, and fishing line, with deadly results."
Groups of 10 or more are urged to register in advance before participating in the sweeps, but all volunteers are welcome even on the day of the sweeps, Clean Ocean Action says.
The sweeps begin with check-in at 9 a.m. and run until approximately 12:30 p.m., rain or shine. Volunteers will be provided trash bags and data cards to record the litter they pick up, which goes into the group's database and its yearly report.
Volunteers are reminded to dress for the weather and bring gloves to protect themselves from sharp objects during the cleanup.
Nearly 60 sites, statewide, are scheduled for clean-ups, including:
Aberdeen: Fisherman's Parking Lot at Cliffwood Beach
Allenhurst: Euclid Ave.
Asbury Park: (2 Sites) 1. Convention Hall at the Boardwalk 2. North Beach (meet at the dirt lot near Asbury Towers)
Atlantic Highlands: Harbor parking lot on First Ave.
Avon: Pavilion at Norwood & Ocean Aves.
Belmar: (2 Sites) 1. Belmar Fishing Club, First Ave. Beach (2) 16th Avenue Beach
Bradley Beach: Gazebo at 5th & Ocean Aves.
Deal: Philips Ave. Beach
Highlands: (2 sites) 1. Popamore Point on Shore Drive 2. Snug Harbor Ave. Beach (behind Community Center)
Keansburg: Laurel & Beachway Aves.
Keyport: Cedar Street (First Street at waterfront)
Long Branch: Pier Village, meet at public access at Melrose Terrace and Ocean Ave.
Manasquan: Main Street beach
Middletown (3 sites): 1. Leonardo Public Beach South at Beach Ave.; 2. Ideal Beach at Ocean Ave. & Bayside Pkwy.; 3. Bayshore Waterfront Park meet at Fishing Pier
Monmouth Beach: Bathing Pavilion at 29 Ocean Ave.
Ocean Grove: Main St. Beach; Meet at Flagpole
Red Bank: Riverside Gardens Park
Sandy Hook: Parking Lot D (Seagulls' Nest Restaurant) -
Sea Bright (4 sites): 1. Ferguson Beach, north of Rumson/Sea Bright Bridge; 2. Meet at Gaiter's Restaurant Oceanside; 3. Meet at Algarve Milano oceanside 4. Meet at Public Beach parking lot
Sea Girt: Boardwalk at Beacon Blvd
Spring Lake: South End Pavilion at Atlantic & Ocean Aves
Union Beach: Florence Ave at Front St
Bay Head: Central Market at Rt 35 & Mount St
Beachwood: Public Beach, Compass Ave
Brick: Brick Beach III on Rt 35 North, next to Ocean Club and across from Bayside Park
Lakewood: Lake Carasaljo, meet across from St. Mary's Church on Rt 9
Lavallette: Philadelphia Ave beach
Long Beach Island: Alliance For a Living Ocean Office; 1101 Central Avenue, Suite A, Ship Bottom, NJ
Mantoloking: Lyman Ave Beach
Normandy Beach: Meet at Labrador Lounge at Peterson St & Rt 35 North
Ocean Gate: Wildwood Ave Pier
Point Pleasant Borough: Maxson Avenue and River Avenue beaches on the Manasquan River
Point Pleasant Beach: Jenkinson's Aquarium on the Boardwalk and the Maryland Avenue beach on the south end next to Bay Head
Seaside Heights: Grant Avenue on the Boardwalk
Seaside Park (4 sites): 1. Stockton Ave on the boardwalk; 2. Second Avenue; 3. Midway Beach at 6th Lane; 4. Island Beach State Park, Bathing Pavilion #1
South Amboy: 1. Raritan Bay Waterfront Park (for more information contact Scott Meyler (732) 745-3064 2. Fisherman's Parking Lot
Atlantic City: Missouri Avenue Beach; Press Event/Rally will be held on the boardwalk.
Atlantic City: Caspian Ave. and N. Maine
Brigantine: 17th St. Beach, South
Egg Harbor Twp.: Longport Dog/Malibu Beach
Longport: 33rd & Atlantic Ave. Beach
Margate: Granville Ave. Beach
Oceanville: Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, *October 27, 2012* Visitors Center
Ventnor: Newport Ave. Beach
CAPE MAY COUNTY
Cape May (3 sites): 1. Nature Center of Cape May (1600 Delaware Ave.) 2. 2nd Ave. Beach 3. The Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows
North Wildwood: 15th Ave. at Beach Patrol Building
Ocean City (2 sites): 1. 9th St. Music Pier 2. 57th St. Beach
Strathmere: Webster Ave. Beach
Stone Harbor: 95th St. Beach
Wildwood: Poplar Ave. Beach
Wildwood Crest: Centennial Park (Ocean Ave. & Fern Rd.)