Contest winners Tiffany Zhou, left, and Jiliene Bronto pose with the crayons they used to the “sign” the billboard, pictured behind them, which features Jiliene’s design and promotes Largo’s expanded recycling program. The girls used real markers to leave signatures on the sign, which can be seen from Ulmerton Road.
LARGO – Ten-year-old contest winners Jiliene Bronto and Tiffany Zhou were hoisted high into the air Dec. 18 to sign a billboard promoting Largo’s new recycling program.
“I could see my school,” said Jiliene, who attends Pinellas Preparatory Academy, not far from where the billboard rose above the Laredo Car Wash, at 8040 Ulmerton Road.
Neither girl was afraid of heights, both bravely waving to their friends and family as the Largo Fire Rescue engine ladder slowly lifted them into the air. They signed the billboard featuring Jiliene’s colored-pencil drawing, depicting the Earth and the recycling logo, surrounded by recyclables and seven people representing the seven continents.
“I’m so proud,” said Jiliene’s father Don Bronto. “I’m telling all my office mates and my co-workers. They always take pictures while driving down Ulmerton.”
Jiliene’s parents, Don and Geraldine Bronto of Clearwater, brother Joshua and several family friends came to watch the billboard signing. Don Bronto said Joshua was the real recycling advocate of the family.
“He then influenced my daughter,” he said.
The billboard with Tiffany’s drawing is on Starkey Road, south of East Bay Drive, but much higher than city officials felt comfortable taking the girls. Tiffany, who attends Ridgecrest Elementary School, said her drawing was similar to Jiliene’s.
“It was fun drawing it and thinking of it,” she said.
Neither girl said they had expected to win. The Bronto family submitted Jiliene’s drawing on the deadline day of the contest. Tiffany, the daughter of Shaw Zhou and Wenying Zhao of St. Petersburg, said she was very excited to learn she had won.
“I was jumping around in excitement,” Tiffany said
Almost 200 children, grades kindergarten through fifth grade entered the city of Largo’s mixed recycling billboard contest. The billboards advertise Largo’s new curbside recycling program, which will collect 11 more types of recyclables than before in wheeled carts similar to residents’ current trash carts.
Tiffany and Jiliene are both in fourth grade and both play piano. Jiliene plays tennis and loves to sing. Tiffany takes table tennis lessons and said she often draws people and nature.
She admitted that she hadn’t practiced her signature, as she peered up at the tall billboard and watched the firefighters prepare the ladder for her ascent.
“You think that signature is going to be famous one day?” asked Tiffany’s godfather, John Scott.
Tiffany looked contemplative.
“Maybe some day,” she said.
Expanded recycling to start soon
Beginning in January, the city will start delivering blue recycling carts with lids that can be rolled to the curb for pick up on residents’ recycle day.
“We wanted to give people enough time to fill them up,” said the city’s recycling manager Marissa Segundo.
Starting in February, the city will collect colored glass, plastics Nos. 1 through 7, paper cartons and metal food cans.
“Residents have often been confused by what they can and can’t recycle,” Solid Waste Manager Michael Gordon stated in a press release. “Thanks to the technology of new sorting facilities in the area, we are finally able to recycle so much more.”
Residents do not need to sort the recyclables in the new program. Everything can be tossed in the cart.
The first collection of mixed recyclables is scheduled Feb. 3. For more information about the program, including a full list of acceptable materials, visit LargoRecyclesMore.com.