Cleaning The Coast

October 2015 Web Exclusive

Speaking of picking up trash like plastic water bottles, here's a case in point to illustrate the power behind action that Editor Brady L. Kay was discussing in his recent post

Years ago, Mike Gilly and his late wife, Karen, joined the ranks of the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, a regular coastwide volunteer push to remove trash in the waterways. However, at that time, the couple had to rely on someone else having a boat to fully participate. Through the years raising their family, they had a goal to eventually get a boat so they could be involved in the cleanup once more.

Mike recently bought a houseboat with enough room for his family and the trash they planned on cleaning up. You guessed it—it was time to join the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup once more!

Mike, his son Josh Gilly, and his step-son Derek Medjesky spent about five hours gathering 150 pounds of trash and one folding chair, leaving four sandbars in their restored natural beauty.

“We were late returning with our trash at the gathering site, so I don't know the totals for the day,” Mike says. “Sometimes I think the river current is faster than my houseboat!”

We asked how the crew felt after seeing all that they had accomplished that day, and Mike replied, “It felt good to see the sandbars that we normally visit to be debris/trash-free and not have to look at empty drink cans and plastic items when we return over the winter months.”

That morning the temperature was brisk, and Josh had arrived at the houseboat wearing shorts. Ken Broussard, the owner of the dock where Mike keeps the houseboat moored, kindly loaned him a pair of jeans instead.

“My son remarked how well those jeans fit,” Mike says. “As we cleaned the sandbars, we had to tromp through the shallow water and got sand on our clothes. After we finished I took the jeans home with me to wash and return to Ken the next day. As I folded the clothes, I noticed the pair of jeans was a size ‘16.’ I immediately called my son to let him that he looked good in women's jeans and he'd better be glad that I had to wash them and not his wife, Michele, because he would have a lot of explaining to do!”

After the fun, the laughs, and the satisfying exertion of physical labor, this family is sure to keep the tradition alive in the years to come, helping the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup continue to protect and preserve these beautiful waterways. If you’re interested in joining the Gillys on the banks of the river next time around, check out or find them on Facebook at

Photo courtesy of Mike Gilly. (L to R) Josh Gilly & Derek Medjesky.

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