RiverSweep: Another 25-Year Milestone

photo2_smallA few weeks ago, I posted some information on EarthFest, an event for the planet that Clevelanders have been celebrating for the last 25 years. It seems like we reached yet another milestone last weekend.

This past Saturday, I put on some old boots and attended RiverSweep, another signature event that has been around in Cleveland for — you guessed it — 25 years.

RiverSweep is a day when volunteers band together to pick up trash and debris that gets tossed into creeks, under bridges and everywhere in between. In mid May of each year, volunteers spread out along The Flats and all along Tremont, Old Brooklyn and other sections of Cleveland to bag, drag and haul out whatever they can handle. Busloads of people attend this event and celebrate with a luncheon somewhere along the Cuyahoga River.

I decided to clean up a section of trail that will soon become the new Towpath Trail Extension. We focused our cleanup efforts on a tiny section between old Harvard Road and Steelyard Commons, where the new off-road trail will soon become a reality. It is hard to believe the connector will be completed in 2017, thanks to the hard work of Tim Donovan and numerous other government and nonprofit partners. We cleaned up this section of road a few times, since RiverSweep in Old Brooklyn has been organized by Friends of Big Creek for many years.

During my hunt along the highway, I found a 25-pound roll of roof paper and a barbecue fork, and figured that was a good way to begin my conversation with a few hundred friends.

“So what’d you find that was interesting?”

That was an easy answer for Jessica Wang and Alanna Restifo, who traveled from Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School for the big event. With their 14-year-old friends and some busloads of other students, they helped haul in about 20 tires, 1 butter knife, a bathtub, a toilet, and a bunch of items they were too embarrassed to tell me about.

Other odd items on the list:

– Roofing tiles
– A dead dog
– A Barbie fishing pole
– A shoe
– A shirt
– Boxsprings
– A Chinese medicine bottle
– A wallet
– Five dollars
– A Pepsi can with an old pull-tab

And so much more.

It will be interesting to see what Cleveland Metroparks finds when they haul all that junk out of the city. Let me know what you found, so I can add it to the list.

This year, RiverSweep ended with a gathering at the Cleveland Rowing Foundation / marina. If you haven’t seen this beautiful space along the Cuyahoga River, you are in for a nice surprise. It is well worth the trip if you are heading to The Flats for the afternoon or an evening out.

Special thanks to Jeff DeLuca of the Cleveland Metroparks for sending me a couple of photos. Although I hated seeing all that trash, it was great to see so many people come together for a great cause.