Back when BP's Deepwater Horizon spill was nothing more than a shrimper's bad dream, an offshore drilling protest called Hands Across the Sand drew 10,000 people to Florida beaches.
You can imagine how many people turned out Saturday to the South Beach site of international protest Hands Across the Sand, now that oil has actually coated Florida children and visibly threatened our shores, sea life, and coastal economies.
Hundreds and hundreds of environmentally minded adults, kids, and dogs formed a snaking line along the water in Lummus Park, participating in a day of action opposing offshore drilling by holding hands from noon to 12:15 p.m.
"Over 750 folks came," said Katie Parrish, a campaign manager for international non-profit Oceana. "We had a fantastic turnout."
Last year, as the possibility loomed that oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill would actually hit South Florida, the South Beach crowd was Hands Across the Sand's largest. But Parrish said this year's protest is even more important that last's.
"We haven't passed a single piece of legislation that would protect us from another offshore drilling disaster," she said. "In fact, Congress has gone the opposite direction. The House of Representatives passed legislation to expand offshore drilling off of Florida.
"We need to be talking about solutions to offshore drilling, not expanding it."
After its founding by a Seaside restauranteur, Hands Across the Sand expanded from Florida to 599 American cities and 20 foreign countries last year with backing from the Surfrider Foundation, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Environment Florida, and others.
Their aim, organizers say, is to draw a literal and figurative line in the sand to demand a permanent ban on new offshore drilling, more responsible practice where offshore drilling already exists, and a massive investment in renewable energy.
And their modus operandi? A little friendly hand-holding, lots and lot of sunscreen, and a little black plastic symbolizing the not-so-nice crude that could easily be real with a stroke of back luck or a bout of irresponsibility.
The added bonus? No sun-burned naughty bits.