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Festival clean-up a group effort

Traverse City Record-Eagle, July 8, 2014


— TRAVERSE CITY — Lauren Vaughn’s crews had the beach surrounding the Open Space almost to themselves two days in a row, a rare scene during the National Cherry Festival.

Andy Gale, founder BARC

That’s because the Traverse City Parks and Recreation superintendent’s crew members were on the sand Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m. while Traverse City natives and tourists alike rested up from a holiday weekend packed with festivities.

City crews arrived bright and early to clean the beaches after Fourth of July fireworks and a U.S. Navy Blue Angels performance.

“That’s when we have the worst trash … after fireworks,” Vaughn said.

National Cherry Festival Executive Director Trevor Tkach said daily cleanup is a partnership between festival volunteers, the city of Traverse City and Bay Area Recycling for Charities.

“Unfortunately, people leave trash on the beach. They do it every day,” Tkach said. “We did our best to get out there and get it cleaned up quickly and have things ready for the net day.”

Crew members emptied trash cans and picked up garbage and debris while one employee drove back and forth on the beach cleaner, a machine that digs down about four inches and runs a screen through the sand to catch debris.

“When there’s not a festival we do it about once a week,” Vaughn said. “When there’s events like air shows and fireworks we have to do it in the morning after those events.”

Grand Traverse County Emergency Management Coordinator Gregg Bird estimated more than a half-million people descended on downtown Traverse City for July 4 celebrations and the National Cherry Festival’s opening weekend.

Jessica Schlimme, volunteer and corporate membership manager for the Cherry Festival, said she expected an influx in crowds and planned accordingly. She recruited more volunteers for clean-up duty during opening weekend, and it paid off.

“I think this is the biggest festival that I’ve ever seen, crowd-wise,” Schlimme said.

Volunteers and Bay Area Recycling for Charities employees start with a beach clean-up each morning and work throughout the day picking up waste and sorting through garbage, recycling and compost.

Andy Gale, Bay Area Recycling for Charities founder, said the amount of trash, recycling and compost was almost too much to handle.

His team is gearing up for the weekend ahead, and another influx of people and refuse.

“They stand up and they walk away from their trash, and for some reason people don’t think that’s littering. It is littering,” Gale said. “It was close to being overwhelming, the amount of material that came in.”



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