NewsHillsborough County


Tampa nonprofits work together to collect and reuse thousands of Gasparilla beads

Posted at 4:07 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 16:07:37-05

TAMPA, Fla. — There were actually two parades this past weekend, we all know about Gasparilla, but what about the cleanup parade that followed.

More than 300 volunteers from Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful walked the streets making sure no beads were left behind.

It’s estimated that nearly 40,000 beads were picked up off of Bayshore Blvd and the surrounding neighborhood over the weekend. They were all dropped off at the McDonald Training Center in Tampa.

It’s the first of many drop-offs to take place at the nonprofit, which focuses on empowering people with disabilities.

“We sort through it, and then we repackage it, and we sell it for next year’s parade or for anyone who is interested in buying beads,” said Krista Wright with the McDonald Training Center.


She said it’s such a rewarding experience for their students.

“You know I think it’s really exciting for them to be a part of something that helps their community,” said Wright. “And also it’s a chance for them to build on those skill sets that are really going to help them get a job in the community and be independent.”

All the money from the resale of these beads goes right back to the center. The city hopes more people see this and are encouraged to drop off their own beads.

“We think about all of the beads and the novelty of them when we catch them, and we wear them, and so sometimes we have to ask ourselves, ‘like how many beads should I get, how many do I keep under the bed,’” said Edgar Castro Tello, Recycling Specialist for Solid Waste for the City of Tampa.

The city has set up four different collection sites for used beads. For more information, go to