Mayor Jane Castor Launches Bead-Free Bay Campaign Ahead of Gasparilla Season

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With event season on the horizon, Mayor Jane Castor is launching a new campaign as part of her sustainability and resilience commitment: Bead-Free Bay.

#BeadFreeBay is an anti-littering awareness campaign to remind the public that throwing beads and other litter in the water is prohibited. Beads and other non-biodegradable items are incredibly harmful to our environment and they pose serious threats to marine wildlife. The goal of the Bead-Free Bay campaign is to minimize the environmental impact of our City’s traditions and events on our waterways and beyond.

“Environmental sustainability is a core tenant of my administration's focus,” said City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.  “And while we all love a good parade, the beads thrown during the parade have no place harming our delicate ecosystem. Together, we will transform Tampa’s tomorrow by keeping our marine wildlife safe and our environment clean by keeping beads out of the water this and every event season moving forward.”

The City of Tampa is proud of its many waterfront community activities like the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Gasparilla. Gasparilla is Tampa’s largest annual tradition, drawing over 300,000 people for the main parade and over a million attendees throughout the whole season. With so many visitors—by land and by sea—countless beads and other debris end up in the bay each event season.

This year, Mayor Jane Castor is firing the cannons on littering by launching #BeadFreeBay. Through this initiative, she hopes to raise awareness about the importance of keeping beads out of the water, and taking care of our marine ecosystems.

To accomplish this, the City of Tampa and Mayor Castor are proud to collaborate with The Florida Aquarium, ChappellRoberts, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG), Krewe of Sant’ Yago, Rough Riders, Green Gasparilla, Sierra Club, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, and more to promote sustainability this event season and year-round.

“People live in Tampa and visit our City because of our strong connection with our waterways and marine life. That’s why we must do everything we can to protect one of our most precious natural resources. By keeping plastic beads from entering the bay, rivers and streams, we’re saving wildlife and preserving our natural world for all Tampanians and visitors to enjoy,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “Mayor Castor’s bold commitment to protecting our environment from plastic beads to sea level rise, is to be commended. We recognize the longstanding tradition of throwing beads in Tampa, and thank her for her leadership in helping Tampa evolve in our commitment to protecting our oceans and marine life.”

To launch the campaign, Mayor Castor and the City of Tampa have partnered with local advertising agency, ChappelRoberts. “We’re proud to create a brand identity for Mayor Castor’s important environmental campaign,” said Colleen Chappell, President & CEO of ChappelRoberts. “Bead-Free Bay is an important message to support our timeless tradition of the Gasparilla season.”

YMKG and the City of Tampa have already started taking steps to minimize the ecological impact of Gasparilla. YMKG worked with the Coast Guard to issue a litter law notice to all mariners. The City is also rolling out a branded campaign with signs at all city docks, and will establish designated “no-throw zones” during parades to prevent beads from accidentally being tossed in the water.

“We recognize that plastics in our waterways is a year-round challenge and believe that Gasparilla can be a catalyst for change,” said Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Captain Richard Chapman. “As good stewards for our environment and for the city we call home, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla is proud to join Mayor Castor and continue to help lead the charge for a more responsible celebration.”

“EventFest remains steadfast in delivering a green Gasparilla by championing programs that minimize the impact on the local environment,” said Darrell Stefany, President of EventFest. “Bead-Free Bay signals an opportunity for us to join together as a community and do our part to protect Tampa’s beautiful waterways.”

Through community partnerships and public participation, Mayor Castor hopes to promote a fun, safe, and sustainable event season for all.

Find graphics for the Bead-Free Bay campaign here:

BROLL of water cleanup from the Florida Aquarium can be found here: b-roll you’ve requested:

 BROLL of underwater drone footage from Green Gasparilla can be found here: :


To join the movement, use #BeadFreeBay on social media and follow the City of Tampa at: