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Crawlin On The Lake Raises Proceeds, Awareness to Keep Local Lakes Clean and Beautiful for 2nd Year

Crawlin On The Lake Raises Proceeds, Awareness to Keep Local Lakes Clean and Beautiful for 2nd Year

by James Coulter

For nearly 30 years, Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful has been keeping its shores and waters within the Chain of Lakes “clean and beautiful” through its annual Project Eagle event in April.

After postponing its clean-up event last year due to the COVID-19 crisis, Project Eagle is once again prepared to go out on the lakes to clear their waters of litter and debris this April. For its second year, Tanner’s Lakeside hosted a fundraiser to help raise funds and proceeds for the annual clean-up.

Several hundred people assembled outside the local eatery along Lake Howard’s shores for an afternoon of live music, spirits, and fried gator. Attendees could participate in 50/50 raffles and lotto hat drawings for a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses.

All the while, participants could listen to live music performed by Robert Jennis and the Josh Blevins Band, allow their children to frolic in the water slide and bounce house, and enjoy barbecue dinners with all the fixings, including actual fried alligator.

“It has been a beautiful day,” said Melanie Culpepper Brown, Event Coordinator. “Even with coronavirus and everything going on, it has been a great turnout.”

Melanie Brown serves on the board for Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful and many other local boards and associations. As someone who coordinates and hosts many local fundraisers, she is more than experienced in raising funds and awareness for such local causes.

She is more than excited for Project Eagle to host their clean-up event this year on April 24 after being unable to host it last year. Two years ago, more than two tons of garbage was cleared from the lakes in under four hours, one volunteer explained.

After a year’s hiatus, Project Eagle is more than likely to clear even more garbage from the lakes this year, Brown said.

“[Our expectation is] getting our lakes cleaned up, putting the community back together, getting everybody out, and just getting together again to make this thing work,” she said. “So we are ready for a great year because we haven’t been able to clean up the lake in two years.”

Rhonda Todd, President and Executive Director of Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful, Inc., was more than pleased with the turnout for the fundraiser on Saturday afternoon and the hard work and effort done by Melanie to move it forward.

“This had gone above and beyond,” she said. “The crowd is ready to support events to help our community, so we are extremely excited and happy about today…The proceeds from today will

go towards Project Eagle so we can go out into our community in our lakes and clean it up and keep our community the treasure and jewel it is today.”

As for the upcoming Project Eagle event, Todd is more than certain that it will be a huge success. After a year’s absence, both she and her team are more than ready to head out on the lakes to clean them up.

“It will be the same and better because people are ready to get out and support our community and continue the efforts to keep Winter Haven clean and beautiful,” she said. “We will keep our waterways clean and protecting our environment to keep Winter Haven clean and beautiful.”

Greg Gay, Volunteer and Sponsor, has been attending Project Eagle since it first started. He has seen generation after generation step up to do their part to keep their local lakes clean, and he is more than willing to venture out once again this year to do the same.

“This is…a real worthy cause, to keep the lakes clean and beautiful,” he said. “We couldn’t do it last year, so it means there’s twice as much trash to pick up this year, so hopefully we can get tons and tons of trash out of the lake, make it cleaner, prettier, and healthier.”

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Staff Reporter

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