It was a sunny day at Twin Lakes Park on the banks of Clear Creek. 105 dedicated volunteers filled bags for 4 hours and cleaned over 2.5 miles of river. That’s the condensed fact sheet. The impact of trash and crap cleaned up out of the creek was measured in thousands of pounds. Adams County folks were mighty surprised to drive the bike path to pick up all the bags and tires and filth. They likely needed to make a few trips, but as always, were happy to do it.
The morning started out in the best way possible, with heaping piles of breakfast burritos and Prodigy coffee. Protect Our Rivers set up their tent and put out the vibe while everyone signed their lives away by way of the waivers, hoping not to contract an STD (or worse) from the freaky junk laying around. After all the speeches and distribution of trash grabbers supplied by The Greenway Foundation everyone was off to the races for a chance to win some sweet prizes.
Prizes for the most plastic bottles is always quite a competition. Second place went to a cool hardworking guy who picked up 327 bottles. He is now the proud owner of a Riversmith Riverquiver! Damn. The first prize was a brand new fly rod and reel from Trouts Flyfishing. The winner picked up a whopping 486 plastic bottles! He claims he didn’t plant them there, and I do know the guy, and he is trustworthy. People were coming in with a bag of bottles saying, “Hey, we picked up 40 bottles,” all excited. Sorry, but you gotta do a little better next year! That said, an estimate put the total plastic bottle count in the 1,800 range, and we didn’t come close to counting them all.
Other prizes were handed out for dirtiest volunteer (she had to burn her clothes), most tires picked up (15), most disgusting item (a treasure box of dildos, crack pipes, pills, and a rosary), and many other contests. After all the big prizes were handed out, there were plenty of caps, gift certificates, and random donations to raffle. Earth-loving businesses like Rep Your Water, Anglers All, Grand Salon, Stranahan’s Whiskey, and so many others donated prizes and Adams County donated tons of blankets, bags, and umbrellas to give away. Damn near everyone won something. It was crazy!
Meanwhile, the dipsticks at King Soopers missed our lunch order, somehow, but thanks to Great Divide and Epic Western, all the adults stayed calm and had too many laughs while pizza was ordered and delivered. Next year, it is pizza. Always dependable. Thanks Italy or whoever makes the claim nowadays.
In year number 3 it felt like the work we have done is paying off more and more and having more volunteers helps more than anything. Everyone keeps saying events like this are much more fun and impactful than a big gala where people just dish out money. Here we come together outdoors and perform something tangible. As disheartening as it is to see the amount of junk, we know that every piece we pick up brings Clear Creek one step closer to being a success story.
Someone asked me if we could do a cleanup in the park they lived next to. My response was for them to organize it and make it happen. (I think that’s what I said. Had a few strong Epic Westerns by that time). But I’ll stand beside it. Organizing folks is easy when it comes to doing a simple act such as a cleanup. There are businesses out there who want to help as well, so if you just pick up the phone, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to pull in a few donations and food or coffee or whatever you need. Just do it. That’s the moral of the story for year 3. Just do it. (Thanks Nike)