ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – He’s jolly, has a white beard, wears red and uses candy canes as his business card – any guesses?
The Lowcountry’s version of Santa Claus is Howard Hogue. We call him “Beach Santa” and he’s made it his mission to clean up beaches and boat landings.
“I came to the beach the first time, I enjoy the beach, but there is so much trash,” he said. “I like to see clean. The number of cigarette butts I picked up down here on Isle of Palms, everything included, over 24,000 cigarette butts in the past year.”
Over 24,000 off the Isle of Palms just this year.
“Normally I go from the volleyball courts north up past county park at 21st street, thats the range I cover,” he explained of his cleaning path.
He said cigarette butts are often hidden in the reeds and contain 94% plastic.
“If that micro plastic gets into the water system, there’s the potential that sea life is going to consume it – if sea life consumes it, and we eat local sea life, we’re possibly eating parts of somebody’s cigarette butt,” he said. “That’s not good.”
Over the summer months, Hogue said he’s cleaning up the beach at least five times a week.
“South Carolina is a beautiful state. Let’s make all of South Carolina beautiful,” he said. “That’s why I pick up along Cypress Gardens Road, that’s why I pick up at the boat landings – to keep the state beautiful.”
He said his goal is to find nothing. “That’s my goal, to find nothing and have an empty bucket and nothing on my sheet.”
He’s never paid for his clean up efforts. Hogue said it’s strictly volunteer work.
“I’m 69-years-old, it’s important that I volunteer, doing something every day and I’m able to give back to society, and the community, to make South Carolina better,” he said.
Hogue said it’s a good thing to make more people aware – he said the more that are aware will help keep the environment clean.