Our experience with the three 'Hands Across the Sand' locations on St. Pete Beach, from the public beach to the Sirata Beach Resort and past the Tradewinds Resort, was thrilling. Hundreds of participants at both the Sirata and Tradewinds were able to link. We reached out to the public beach to the south, and could have stretched down to the public beach site with a few bullhorns to stretch the crowd apart.
It was the most amazing, incredible thing Ive ever seen. The energy was electric, and when our own long-time volunteer Marea Dorian of Dorian Photographics flew past in her red helicopter to film us, the crowd went wild! Above the red helicopter was an airplane pulling the sign of our alliance: "Love Tourists Not Drilling" - prompting more cheers from the crowd and providing a special photo op among the many photo ops that day.
Our first speaker was Greg Nicklaus, owner of the Sirata Beach Resort, bringing home the point that his family-owned business depended on clean beaches to keep tourists coming back year after year. Greg was followed by U.S., state and local government elected officials. The speakers included U.S. Congressman C.W. Bill
Phil Compton, Regional Representative of the Sierra Club showed a map of the oil spill in the Timor Sea superimposed upon the eastern Gulf of Mexico (below) demonstrating what can happen to pristine beaches and vital water resources if oil drilling is allowed in the eastern Gulf. Patricia Plantamura, Seminole City Councilwoman and Scott Maddox, candidate for Florida Agriculture & Consumer Services Secretary, each spoke about their opposition to drilling and commitment to clean energy development. Finally, Robin Grabowski, CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce reiterated
The amazing synergy of these speakers of disparate political and community backgrounds was something that could not have been scripted. In his or her own way, each and every one of the speakers stood firm against offshore drilling and each and every one expressed the urgent need for Florida to pursue clean, renewable energy now.
The amazing volunteer spirit and team collaboration of this effort at St Pete Beach, and all the beaches of Pinellas and in Florida, is the kind of movement we all wish for. I cant wait for the next move. FLORIDA ROCKS!
For Pinellas Hands Across the Sand
Photos by Katie Machol