Tourism group pushing message that #onlytrashlitters

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - If fireworks are a July 4th tradition, cleaning up the mess they leave behind is certainly a July 5th tradition.

Friday morning, cleanup crews were moving across the sand beach, picking up the mess left behind by the holiday crowds. It was a task made more difficult because of the heavy rain overnight that soaked everything. In fact, the rain was still interrupting Friday's work.

Even though there are dumpsters on the beach for everyone to use, there's still a lot of trash. That's why the Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Board is hosting a "Clean Our Scene" clean-up project. They're asking residents to grab trash bags and gloves, and head to the beach to pick up.

In Harrison County, the Sand Beach Authority and Waste Pro are partnering to provide 500 garbage drums and 13 dumpsters; if these drums and dumpsters are full, residents should place their closed bags of trash next to a drum or dumpster so it will be picked up.

"Unfortunately, we always see our beaches filled with trash and debris the day after the 4th," said Bridgette Varone, executive director of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association and chairperson of the Tourism Partnership's Clean Our Scene efforts. "It is an embarrassing eyesore to the visitors who have chosen the Mississippi Gulf Coast for their vacation and then they can't enjoy the beach."

According to the partnership, research shows one of the key issues that has a direct impact on tourism is litter and unsightly debris. The Tourism Partnership started the Clean Our Scene initiative in 2012 as a three-month public awareness campaign, and it has grown to focus on building Coast-wide partnerships and efforts to address anti-litter and beautification needs.

"We really encourage parents to bring their children out for the day doing a good community service project," adds Varone. "And we want to see photos of your efforts on social media - post them to the Clean Our Scene Facebook or to Twitter and Instagram using the hash tag #onlytrashlitters, an anti-litter campaign."

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.