ENGLEWOOD — The cleanup effort Saturday at Cedar Point Environmental Park didn’t yield a lot of trash, but some volunteers did pick up a little treasure.
Every year volunteers meet at the park to take part in the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup, organized by the Ocean Conservancy. Volunteers say some years the Cedar Point sweep yields everything from tires to household garbage. Saturday morning, while volunteers Bob Woodward and Bill McSharry combed the mangroves for more parts to the ancient washing machine they were collecting from the shoreline, they discovered a small glass bottle.
“At first we through it was just more trash,” Woodward said.
But then they took a closer look.
What they found inside the bottle was a handwritten note from a child in Belgium — an actual message in a bottle from the other side of the world.
“Hello,” the letter, written in pencil on faded yellow paper, started. “My name is Frederique. I come from Holland and I live in Belgium. Please send a letter.”
Adorned with a smiley face and other doodles, the note stated the author was 12 years old when the missive was set adrift on Aug. 6, 2010. The sender gave an address in Zoersel, Belgium, wished the finder good luck, and asked that a photo be included with the response.
Cedar Point manager Bobbi Rogers said she plans to honor the child’s request and include the newspaper clipping of the bottle’s discovery.
“I’ll write him (Frederique can be a male or female name) back,” she said. “This is exciting.”
Although most times the trash and debris removed from the park are routine, every now and then odd things do show up, Rogers said.
“One time, we thought we had found a bomb. It said ‘hazardous’ on it, so we all got away from it and called the cops,” she said.
Police arrived and took the item, which they said was part of an airplane, away.
Things were generally less exciting this year.
Rogers said about 15 people took part in the annual cleanup. That’s more than some years and fewer than others, but she said given the amount of trash on the property, it was more than enough.
“When people come to visit a park, I think they are really good about not littering,” she said. “And the tide was out. If it was in, I think we would have seen more stuff floating in the water.”
Not that she’s disappointed, and neither was Rachelle Gregg. She and her family moved to Rotonda West last year from Pennsylvania, and she said she was looking for something her family could do together this weekend.
“I saw on the Ocean Conservation website, today was the International Cleanup, and searched to find a place to go,” she said. “We like to do things that focus on our family.”
Other than some plastics, old lumber and the lid to a barbecue grill, she said there wasn’t much to pick up.
“It was cleaner than I thought it would be,” she said. “But this is only my first year.”