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Hundreds celebrate the 4th on Masonboro Island

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MASONBORO ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- Masonboro Island was packed with hundreds of young people celebrating Thursday.

"We're just going to be hanging out having a good time,” Chandler Mills said.

Generations of folks have said the exact same thing on the 4th of July for decades. For many, this is their first time joining in on the festivities.

"This is my first year. I've heard stories and had to come check it out," Dylan Cash said excitedly.

First time visitors are a main reason Masonboro.org volunteers are also making their presence on the beach a tradition. The organization says many are unfamiliar with the lay of the land before making the trip over and do not realize there is not a way to dispose garbage.

"They have no way to get their trash off the island so that's where Masonboro.org steps in to help,” explained Richard Johnson, co-founder of Masonboro.org.

This year, 60 volunteers sacrificed a day with their families to protect the freedom of enjoying the island. A freedom they feel could be threatened by this day if visitors do not behave appropriately.

"We were afraid the state might impose more rules on the island,” said Johnson. “It's been the partying and the trash left behind that might lead to more rules and regulations."

Masonboro.org said it has over 1,000 trash bags to hand out over the course of the day. Organizers say they hope to encourage people to keep the beach clean by providing them with a way to take their trash with them when they leave.

Young people are thankful the volunteers are watching out for them, but say visitors should be responsible without the reminder.

"You inspect what you expect. We would expect people would leave it the same way they found it,” Ben Heienemann said.

Masonboro.org is expecting to pick up around 4,000 pounds of trash. They say it will take about 30 trips back and forth from the island, to get the garbage back to land.

Waste Management has been partnered with the organization for four years. The company donated three dumpsters for all the waste collected on the beach.

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