“I’ve been into VW for awhile,” said event organizer, who goes by Amanda G. “It’s a community and once you’re in it, you’re in it.”
This year’s bash brought in roughly 76 VWs – mostly classic Beetles and busses – and 800 people. Proceeds from the event benefited two charitable organizations: Sea Turtle Trackers and Second Chance for Strays. Sea Turtle Trackers partners with the state of Florida and local communities to ensure a suitable habitat for sea turtles. They are 100% volunteer based.
“It’s always good. It’s very successful and brings in a lot of people,” said Tracy Andrews, Treasurer for Sea Turtle Trackers. “I heard people talking and saying that they schedule their vacations around it.”
Second Chance for Strays in Clearwater focuses on animals as well, saving unwanted and stray cats and kittens since 1999. All of Second Chance for Strays cats are housed in foster homes or in the Clearwater Mall PetSmart, creating zero overhead for the organization.
“We’re 100% volunteer and always looking for fosters,” said organization president Barb Drane. Drane says the donations raised at the VW Beach Bash will help provide food, litter and vet services for the cats currently waiting for homes.
“It was a big educational day,” said Andrews, talking about the bash. “We talked to people about what we do and encourage them to take care of the beaches.”
Canoe Country Outfitters of St. Petersburg donated a kayak, double-sided oar, life preserver and car straps to the event. The item was raffled off, with 100% of the revenue going to Sea Turtle Trackers and Second Chance for Strays. Surprisingly Andrews, the treasurer for Sea Turtle Trackers, won the kayak on Saturday, and the Trackers plan to use it for future sea turtle rescue.
“It will probably be used an awful lot in our sea turtle work,” said Andrews. “There are often times where we have to get to a sick turtle in the Intracoastal and it’s very hard to get in and out of there, so the kayak is perfect.”
Typically the VW Beach Bash invites non-profits to come out and set up tables and chat with the public about their cause, but donations aren’t usually on the schedule. In the past, the VW Beach Bash donated profits from beer sales to Tampa Bay Watch. As for next year, organizers say they plan to go with the flow.
Keeping the waterfront location in mind, the show was prefaced by Betty’s Beach Cleanup, lead by sponsor Betty, a St. Petersburg-based boutique. Brent Designs also sponsored the event.