Crawlin On The Chain Celebrates First Year With Surprising Turnout
by James Coulter
For more than 30 years, Project Eagle has been cleaning the water and shores within the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes every Earth Day weekend. Between 350 and 500 volunteers gather together to help with the cleanup effort.
Though the annual cleanup event has been able to sustain itself through funding for the past three decades, recently, its organization has been running low on funds. Local humanitarian Melanie Brown wanted to change all that by providing extra help and funds through the inagural Crawlin On The Chain.
Last Saturday, several hundred people gathered at Tanner’s Lakeside in Winter Haven to enjoy live music, barbecue, and beer in an effort to raise money for Project Eagle. Even with current concerns about Coronavirus, the inagural event proved successful.
“I was very pleased with everyone who came out and joined us,” Brown said. “I love the community coming together…[The event] is a about supporting each other and causes.”
The event featured such festivities as bounce houses for children, raffle ticket giveaways, live musical entertainment provided by local groups such as the Nathan Baldwin Band and Josh Blevins Band, and a barbecue meal with either grilled chicken or roasted gator.
The Swamp Wagon, which included Robert “Wormy” Shelnutt and Steven Guillette, especially helped in preparation by cooking the gator and chicken all night long, Brown explained.
Brown helps oversee many local charity events such as this throughout the county. Next week, she will be helping host the Putt Putt Pub Crawl at Apple Lounge and several other Winter Haven bars and taverns to raise funds for the Women’s Resource Center.
“I want to tell everyone to continue coming out and supporting all the events that we do because they all go to good causes,” she said. “Everyone come out and support us because it is all local people who help make us happen.”
Tracey Greene, Executive Director for Project Eagle, was pleased by the turnout for the event, as it showed that the community is more than willing to help protect their local environment, she said.
During her time with Project Eagle, she has seen volunteers pull anything and everything from out of the depths of the lakes including appliances and tires. The funds provided at this event will allow her team to continue doing their good work and keeping their waters clean.
“I think it [Crawlin On The Chain] is a great event…and we hope that it will get larger and better in the future,” Greene said.
Greg Gay, owner of Tanners Lakeside, has been living and working near the chain for the past 35 years. As such, he knows how important it is for him and his livelihood to keep the lakes clean. That is the main reason he decided to host the event at his restaurant.
He was pleased by the turnout, especially in light of the coronavirus. The people who shows up at the event proved that “they aren’t afraid of no damn virus.”
“Everybody loves the chain, we all try to come out and help,” he said. “Seeing all the fun of the people being here.”
Nathan Baldwin has performed at this event as well as others hosted by Melanie Brown. He is inspired by her giving spirit, and wanted to do his part to give back to his local community.
“I like to be part of the community and be helpful, so I might as well help around here,” he said. “I think it is great to be part of something to keep the lakes clean.”
Project Eagle will host its cleanup event on Apr. 25th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lake Shipp Park, located at 1600 S Lake Shipp Dr., Winter Haven, Florida 33880. For more information, visit their website at: http://www.keepwinterhavenbeautiful.org