You wouldn’t think that the past and present US Coast Guard members playing cards at the American Legion had spent the last few hours in the blazing sun beautifying Gulf Boulevard, but that was the focus of this years annual cleanup.
On August 21, about 700 active-duty and retired Coast Guard members, as well as their spouses gathered on Gulf Boulevard to clean up the trash that litters the area.
When American Legion Post 305 on St. Pete Beach heard about this year’s cleanup, the organization invited the Coast Guard members over afterwards for drinks and snacks.
“They were doing something so nice that we though it was appropriate to show them how St. Pete Beach treats its visitors,” said Steve LaPlante, American Legion Information Officer. “If they have a choice, we’d love to have them back every year.”
The Coast Guard members are already in town for the 50th U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association Convention, hosted at the Sirata Beach Resort from August 20 to 23.
The cleanup of Gulf Boulevard this year is just one of the 50 community projects that the Coast Guard has aided, each in a different area for each annual convention.
Except this year.
The first Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association Convention was held in St. Petersburg, and now the members have returned to celebrate their 50th convention in sunny St. Pete Beach, five decades later.
“It’s a business meeting, but we make it fun,” said Kim Lorigan, the National President of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers. “We banded together. Our efforts are to take care of our Coast Guard and their families, but also the community.”
From 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the men and women who served in the US Coast Guard played various card games, made friends at the American Legion Post 305 bar and told stories about their service.
“I just loved [the Coast Guard]. They made me retire, cause you can only do 30 years,” said incoming National President Jon Ostrowski. “My involvement here keeps me connected to 30 years of family.”