Many Winter Haven area residents helped to clean shorelines around the Chain of Lakes on Saturday during the Project E.A.G,L.E event, hosted by Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful staff and supporters.

It was the 30th time that area residents have met for the purpose of teaming to clean the Chain of Lakes shorelines. E.A.G.L.E. stands for Enhancing A Great Living Environment.

The program started as a statewide initiative by the former Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in 1991. Paul Thomas is a retired biologist who helped to start the program.

Thomas said over the first few years there were state-sponsored clean up events all over the state. But, after the first few years, state leaders decided to let local leaders have the opportunity to lead the clean up events.

“This proved to be the demise of Project E.A.G.L.E. in all of the state except Winter Haven,” Thomas said. “Our EAGLE soars each spring, because of the care and dedication of the city, county, organizations, businesses and volunteers who show up year after year to remove the trash others leave behind.”

Over the last 10 years more than 4,000 volunteers have collected and removed 23 tons of trash from the Chain of Lakes during a Project EAGLE event including four tons (9.000 pounds) of tires.

Project EAGLE is an annual event. For those who want more information about next year's event, or to ask for help creating a neighborhood cleanup project of your own, call (863) 513-0006 to learn more. Rhonda Todd is the relatively new Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful executive director, having taken over for Winter Haven City Commissioner Tracy Mercer when Mercer was elected.

During and after the clean-up effort, bands played on the shore of Lake Shipp and children took advantage of the playground in perfect Florida springtime weather.

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