"Without question, this weekend was the busiest weekend Panama City Beach has ever seen," said TDC Executive Director, Dan Rowe.
Massive crowds on our beaches made local businesses very happy this holiday weekend, but it came with a cost.
"I have never seen the beach this dirty," said Gulf World's General Manager, Pam George. "It's upsetting when you see things like that." The trash is not just an annoyance, it can also harm wildlife both in and out of the water. "It's nesting season. So if turtle came across those piles of trash, it would be difficult to get to the ocean," George explained.
The tourism development council contracts a clean-up company to empty trash bins daily, and rake each section of the 18-mile beach once a week. The company normally deals with 7,000 pounds of trash each week. In just the last three days, that number sky rocketed to 175,000 pounds. "This weekend, with all the people that were there, it was overwhelming."
Many locals and tourists agree -- clean up crews were understaffed this weekend. But they also say it comes down to the individual. "Ultimately, we all are responsible when we go to the beach. We need to clean up after ourselves and make sure there's no traces left. That whole policy of take what you leave, or take off the beach what you bring, is obviously something not a lot of people pay mind to," said Ian Geissler.
Rowe said crews raking the beaches will help get rid of the loose trash, but it'll take until a week for them to cover the entire beach.