By Amanda Dreyer
Every week, Monday – Friday, I would sit at my desk, gazing through the window. I’d spend a few moments watching the sun shine brightly and kids running as fast as they could to stand in line for a scoop of delicious ice cream. And just as sure as I was that the sun would rise and the sugar rushes would come, I knew this man, as tall as the trees and as quiet as the clouds, would walk by my window. Countless times he passed by and countless times I thought I should go say hello. It wasn’t until one sunny Sunday afternoon, when I saw this same man many blocks away from the office, that I decided I would finally walk outside the office and talk to him. To no surprise, I saw this mysterious man the very next day, humbly and gallantly stroll by my work window, sword in hand and shield by his side. Though his weapons aren’t lethal, the evil he’s fighting against is, and standing at a whopping 6’8” made it very easy for him to see these villains from far and near. I’m so glad I finally got the chance to meet this resident, a man I consider an “unsung hero”.
The who, what and where?
My name is Dennis Holman. My family and I are “part timers”. We spend some time down here at my Father-in-law’s house in Cocoa Beach, and the other time is spent home in Vermont. I’m retired now, but I worked in emergency services for most of my life. I have two kids that are both grown, and 4 grandkids, they come down with me and visit. Now that I’m retired I focus on being a great man to all I meet and know.
How did you begin picking up trash?
About 5 years ago, I started to go for a daily walk and wanted to increase my heart rate. There are many reasons I love Cocoa Beach, too many to mention, so I thought picking up litter would be a nice way to give back. After awhile, my back gave me some push back, so I invested in my grabber (sword) and 5 gallon bucket (shield). It’s my therapy, exercise and community service.
Have you been a part of any clean up crews?
This past February I went out with the Surf Riders and did a clean up from Ron Jon’s to the Westgate Pier and back. A few days before that, I was able to help plant the sea oats; this is the earliest I’ve been down in order to help. I’ve also done the Mayor’s challenge this year, since I already pick up around town, I figured I might as well be a part of it.
What inspired you?
I may not be an environmentalist, but I think it’s my duty to help. Being here, you’re feet away from the ocean. The street gutters are in a fast pass line to the ocean, much like Disney. I try to pay attention to plastics as best I can. I actually mentioned the issue of plastic straws to the Downtown group, and when I came back, they were gone! It made me very happy to see a difference. I pay attention to the straws, plastic does a lot of damage to nature’s animals. Now that straws are out of the way, I’ve been focusing on cigarette butts, wrapping included, they are everywhere! The best reward to me is the moments when a kid on a school bus thanks me for helping, or people go by on bikes sending peace signs and that surfer sign (shakka) when they ride by, all of them random strangers. I’ve even had a Venezuelan woman try to pay me in order to thank me for picking up around town. It’s a nice feeling.
Trash is a big issue for our waterways, what should people be more aware of?
You have to change behaviors, be willing to take that extra step to bend over and toss them in the place they should be, you can even make a game out of it if you need to. Even though there are a few dispensers here and there, I still end up picking up garbage off the ground in the area around them. It all comes down to us, people need to be more aware and make the change. My family and I love coming to visit Cocoa Beach, and I want to show that by helping in any way I can.