PUNGO — On the Saturday morning before the Pungo Strawberry Festival, people gathered at Blue Pete’s on North Muddy Creek Road before setting off to clean up the back roads around here.
Princess Anne Road is always nice and groomed before the annual festival, which brings thousands upon thousands to the rural heart of Virginia Beach. So the volunteers stuck to other country thoroughfares with names such as Muddy Creek, Gum Bridge, Mill Landing and Charity Neck.
They cleaned up along the ditches that line these and other rural roads so they would look beautiful before the festival.
“We pick up the most bizarre stuff,” said Cassie Bozard, who founded the Pungo Pickup after noticing trash while biking local roads with her husband, Sean Bozard. The couple lives in Holland Pines, but Sean Bozard grew up here and his folks still live in Pungo.
This year’s haul included tires, light fixtures, the box from somebody’s new monster-sized TV, umbrellas, a bookshelf, part of a deck, insulation and — for whatever reason — a couple of frying pans. About 30 volunteers hauled the junk away in some 56 bags.
The Pungo Pickup is in its sixth year now. Cassie Bozard said a number of local businesses help the event, including Ashton Landscaping, ZBZ & Associates, Epic Made and Blue Pete’s. The city parks and recreation department provides bags and grabbers. And other local businesses provide raffle items.
Allison Crisher of Pungo worked side by side with the organizers, too, which was especially meaningful to Bozard this year since the Bozards are expecting a child.
“Originally, the goal was just to bring back the beauty of Pungo and make it look nice for the strawberry festival,” Bozard said. In the future, it may include more of a charitable component, she added.
There have been more than 75 volunteers in the past, so this was a bit of a light year for turnout. However, the volunteers got a lot done before heading back to Blue Pete’s to gather together again after a lot of hard work along the back roads.
“We’re hoping next year it will pick up, but we did pick up a lot of trash,” Bozard said.
You can find and follow the Pungo Pickup on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about getting involved in the annual cleanup.
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