Six months after the Gulf oil spill darkened the image of Florida’s coast — if not the beaches themselves — thousands of volunteers walked all 825 miles of the state’s coastline on Saturday, documenting with photographs that sand and sea are fine and visitors should c’mon down.
About 3,700 Floridians, many of them toting still and video cameras, covered every mile of coast from the Florida-Alabama border on the Gulf to north of Jacksonville on the Atlantic side. More than 5,000 of their photos have been uploaded to a nifty interactive map that allows you to select exact locales and view firsthand the state of the beaches — or at least, the state of the beaches as recorded during Saturday’s event.
The massive public relations effort was orchestrated by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing organization. It comes at the start of the winter tourist season when officials are hoping to quell any doubts that the beaches suffered no lingering effects from the spill.
As an added incentive to draw viewers to the site, Visit Florida is sponsoring a sweepstakes with chances to win a Florida vacation, a Mazda Miata and a $5,000 gift card. Vote for your favorite mile of beach to enter the contest.