Rising waters usually mean fewer volunteers for Missouri River Relief, according to Steve Schnarr, with Missouri River Relief.
Schnarr said when river cleanups are scheduled and the river doesn’t cooperate, it’s hard to get people to come out and help.
That wasn’t the case this past Saturday at the Missouri River Cleanup event in Washington.
About 175 volunteers came out to help clean the rivers. The large group, ranging in age from 5 to 70, spent several hours cleaning up the river and surrounding sites.
“Any time we have to cancel the river cleanup and come up with different sites, we usually get about half the volunteers who had signed up,” Schnarr said. “This time we had 40 more. It was such a beautiful sight. People just really wanted to do something positive for their community.”
In all, the cleanup crews hit 10 different sites near the riverfront. The cleanup took place around the river, Busch Creek and St. John’s Creek.
The crews filled up a 30-cubic-yard dumpster with trash. Schnarr estimated it was about 3 tons worth of trash.
Crews also pulled at least 70 tires from the river.
“The volunteers were really self-motivated,” Schnarr said. “They just had the most positive attitudes and worked really hard.”
The biggest find of the day was in St. John’s Creek. Two boats set off to clean up the area and found two compressed bales of milk jugs that had been washed away during a flood at the city’s recycling center.
Schnarr said the bales weighed about 1.25 tons. Crews worked to remove the bales from the creek and broke them down before city staff came by and took the jugs back to the recycling center.
Schnarr thanked the city of Washington for its help with the event. He said Street Superintendent Tony Bonastia was a big help in finding locations to clean after the river event had to be modified because of the rising waters.
The river festival Saturday also drew a large crowd. Gloria Attoun Bauermeister, event organizer, said the nice spring weather brought out many people.
“It was perfect,” she said. “We had so many people. We had a really steady stream of people from beginning to end.”
Bauermeister said everything went smoothly despite the river being high. She said that was the only downside of the day.
Early feedback from the event praised the music, she said. The River Kittens, Woodshine and Texas Giants earned positive reviews.
The local artists and children’s performer “Babaloo” also went over well.
“I loved how all these people came together and it was such a positive experience and positive event,” Bauermeister said. “It was rewarding seeing all of those people enjoying the river and their community.”
Because the event was about cleaning up the river, Bauermeister said the festival wanted to have as little trash as possible.
Food vendors, which included Bob and Pat’s BBQ, Tacolicious and John G’s Tap Room, helped out by using recyclable or compostable products. At the end of the event, organizers had seven bags of recyclable or compostable material and only one bag of trash.
Bauermeister thanked the committee who helped plan and run the event. Committee members are Mike Smith, Kate Kresse and family, Tony Carosella, Jen Sieradzki, Ryan Snider, Matt Soete, Holly Currier and Stefanie Virgen.
Sponsors for the river events were John G’s Tap Room, Rotary Club of Washington, Washington Boat Club, Bank of Washington, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Clemco Industries, Washington Lions Club, Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.