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A clean sweep in Newport Beach

Dozens of volunteers, including families, surfers on surfboards and scuba divers, descended on Newport Beach on Monday to help clean up after the city’s Fourth of July celebrations.

Save Our Beach, a nonprofit group based in Seal Beach, organized the event, called Underwater Treasure Hunt, which was also sponsored by the shoemaking company Vans.

The group’s mission was to collect all of the trash sitting underwater and on the beach after Sunday’s holiday celebration.

Standing by the pier, Tony Barone, 66, his son, Steven, 35, and his granddaughter, Ella, 6, talked as they waited to help scuba divers collect their mesh bags. “It’s good exercise and its good for the environment,” Steven Barone said. “It’s also a good way for our kids to learn not to litter.”

As his giggling granddaughter kicked sand on his shoes, Tony Barone said the California coast was one single beach.

Nearby, Leslie Chavers, 53, of Los Alamitos and her children Scott, 15, and Amber, 12, rummaged in the sand for smaller bits of trash. Chavers said her son had rescued a small crab trapped inside a party cup. “You rescued that crab,” Chavers told her son, who nodded.

The cleanup, said Steve Masoner, co-founder and president of Save Our Beach, was the first in the group had helped organize in Newport Beach. The effort was the idea of Corona del Mar resident Rob Forrester, 39, a certified scuba diver.

“It all started about a year ago,” Forrester said. “We put together a scuba diving scavenger hunt and we found an unbelievable amount of trash underwater.” The goal, he added, is to stage such cleanups after major holidays.

Diving around piers from Seal Beach to Newport Beach, Forrester said he has found a golf cart, tires, wallets and purses.

The cleanup in the water ended early because of a strong current related to a storm out of New Zealand that generated large waves along the Southern California coast.

“The current was really strong,” said Shannon Hood, 23, a surfer from Long Beach. Cleanup ended early for Hood and her surfer friend, Paloma Duarte, 25, also of Long Beach, when they lost their hand nets in a wave. The surfing duo said it was their first cleanup effort in the water. “It was cool,” Hood said. “I’d definitely come back out and do it again.”

“It was for a good cause,” Duarte added.

The current also prematurely ended the cleaning efforts of Forrester and two other divers. “I was certain we were going to be underneath all those surfers in less than 2 minutes,” Jeff Chandler, 28, a diver from Rowland Heights, told Forrester as they made their way out of the water.

“We get an A for effort, right?” Forrester asked.

A cleanup is scheduled for Saturday at Huntington Beach, according to the group’s website, saveourbeach.org.

ruben.vives@latimes.com


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